Surviving the Holidays and Finding Peace
Treat yourselves gently. Listen to your heart. You alone will know what you can and can’t do. Below is a brief checklist that shows you some options.
- Give cash/gift certificates
- Shop online
- Ask for help
- Shop early
- Make your gifts
- Shop with a friend
- Exchange gifts at a later time
- Shop at off hours & bring a list
- Listen to their favorite songs
- Purchase new music
- Avoid the radio
- Modify them
- Ask for help
- Let others do it
- Have a special decoration for your child
- Shorten your list
- Ask for help
- Include an update letter
- Skip it
- Attend for a while
- Don’t attend
- Have others come to you
- Go to a new place
- Don’t commit. Let them know that you will come if you can.
Finding Moments of Peace At Holiday Time
- Go to a mass/religious observance that is less crowded & more intimate.
- Ask for a mass or religious observance to be held in their memory.
- Say a toast or have a moment of silence at your gathering.
- Light a candle and place it at your child’s place setting.
- Place pure white flowers in the center of your holiday table in memory of your Heavenly child.
- If you are preparing a holiday meal, include their favorite dishes.
- Place a wreath or flowers at their final resting spot.
- Plant an evergreen tree in memory of your child.
- Place a special ornament on the tree for your Heavenly child. (ie: an angel, a star, etc.)
- Place a wrapped package or two under the tree or by the Menorah for your Heavenly child. Some people found it difficult not seeing a gift there.
- Share stories & memories with close friends and family.
- Create a small remembrance area for your child. Include some favorite photos, small items, etc.
- Donate to a charity in your child’s honor. Encourage your family and friends to give to do so, as well. This is a way for them to still feel like they are giving a gift to your child.
- Give blood, mentor a child, volunteer at a shelter or food cupboard.
- Give small tokens that belonged to your child to those closest to them. (Small stuffed animals, trading cards, drawings, something with their handwriting on it, etc.)
- Cuddle up with those closest to you in peaceful silence.
One Bereaved Mother Shared This Advice Via Her Blog:
For most of us, the upcoming holiday season will be difficult. It doesn’t matter if your child died last month, last year, 5 years ago or over 10 years ago. We never forget what the holidays were like when they were around: the joy, the laughter, and the delicious meals. Anything they were a part of will always be in our hearts. We will never forget them or the time we were fortunate to spend with them.
Each year I make a plan with five ideas in mind that were given to me by a friend.
First, I predict that the most difficult parts of the holiday season for me will be seeing the joy on a child’s face just as I used to see it on my child: the first time she got to put ornaments on a Christmas tree, the first time she got to go caroling, or later on, the first time she got to bring a gift to a senior home. I will also not be able to buy a gift for my child, even though I’m sure I know what she’d want. Just going shopping, knowing I’d see that special light in her eyes when she opened the package was a great feeling.
Second, the most difficult people to be with might be those who have children my daughter’s age. They now would have children of their own, and I dream of what it would be like for my child to have her own family. I have been to dinners with those who have no surviving children and, although it is sad, at least I don’t have to listen to all the news about the children and grandchildren.
Third, words that would be helpful for me to hear would be my child’s name in a conversation. I don’t want others to forget her. I never will. And when her name comes up and a story about her is told, it is like music to my ears. Memories are all I have now, and I cherish anything that someone else remembers that I may not have known or that triggers another story that I can personally tell.
Fourth, my support people (those who can hear my grief) are my husband, relatives and very dear friends. My husband (not my daughter’s father and never met my daughter) likes to hear stories and is very supportive of anything I may want to do or in her honor. For example, he always accompanies me to the cemetery whenever I feel like going, and he knows how important doing little things in her honor or memory is to me. A few relatives and very close friends are also comforting with thoughts, words and deeds that make me feel good.
Fifth, this year I want to include the following traditions in my holiday celebrations: I want to have people over for dinner who I enjoy being with, particularly those who knew my daughter and are not afraid to bring up her name in conversations. I also want to help disadvantaged kids. I am collecting items and money to buy things for them that they need, according to various organizations. And finally, I’m considering helping serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to those who are homeless. Volunteering is always rewarding.
Think about these five ideas and what has happened in your life. Then fill in these phrases and sentences for your own personal holiday plan, and you may find it a rewarding season for your family and others.