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In our family we have always LOVED the holidays and having kids just makes it so much more fun. With our oldest son we would go all out for every holiday decorating and getting into the spirit of things. When I was pregnant with Scott my Christmas card that year had a sonogram pic of him. We were so excited to know we would have him with us the next Christmas.
But the Universe had different plans for us for our family. Scott died when he was two weeks old. He never even got to wear his little 4th July outfit I had picked out for him to wear that summer. ( He was born in June)
Our world when from Joy to sorrow. It took everything I had to function enough to get out of bed to feed my son breakfast. That following fall we were not looking forward to the holidays at all. But yet we knew we had to do something we had a 3 year old who had grown up being taught to love the holidays and to celebrate them. My husband I decided we needed to do what was best for us which was keeping it low key. Lucky for us my brother is a shift worker and had to work so we decided to have Thanksgiving that Saturday after instead of the actual day. So on Thanksgiving day we went and ate Chinese food, and saw a movie. That is now our family tradition ( since my family has decided to celebrate Thanksgiving every year on that Saturday)
Christmas that year we were really dreading. The thought of decorating the tree and seeing Colin's first Christmas ornaments knowing there wouldn't be one for Scott was unbearable. Knowing there would be no stocking with his name, knowing there would be no gifts under the tree from Santa with Scott's name. We actually looked into a Disney cruise for Christmas just to escape for that year. (but don't ask how much more it costs during Christmas time). So instead we dialed it down and had our family help us. The granparents came over and helped C decorate the tree. They made sure C's 1st Christmas ornaments stayed in the box and we never saw them. No Christmas cards were sent out that year I felt there was nothing to express joyfully about my past year. But then the next year came we sent a newsletter explaining to our family/friends about our involvement in the MOD and how we are celebrating Scott by forming our MOD team. In my family we have a big Polish dinner every Christmas Eve. A traditional thing we always do during that night is go around with a wafer and wish everyone something for the year and share a piece of the wafer. The anxiety my husband and I had knowing that was coming. But we soon found out when arriving that night that the family had decided to not do it that year. How relieved we felt.
As the years go on the Holidays aren't so bad. I think it helps that we have started new traditions and do what we need to do to help ourselves get through it.
This is the first year were I am looking forward to the holidays but it's because we are now in a place were we are celebrating Scott more and incorporating him more in our lives without having so much sadness. I'm not saying it's always easy and that there are never tears, anxiety, or other emotions it's just becoming easier and I am learning how to go with it. I had my therapist tell me that take time on the holiday to reflect, have that moment of tears/sadness. Give yourself that. It seems to work for us. Instead of trying to bottle it up and act like all is good we give ourselves the "freedom" to have a good cry and we found because of that we are able to enjoy the holiday more. That first year my husband and I got into the worst arugment we had ever had on Thanksgiving day. It was over something really stupid and hurtful things were said. But we look back at it now and realize we were trying so hard to have a "normal" day for C that it just got to much for us and our emotions the best of us.
Last year we were in a place emotionally that we were ready to buy special ornaments for Scott, a family ornament with all our names, and a big brother ornament for my son C. We had C buy his brother a gift and we donated it to Toys for Tots. But it took us 3 years to get to that point.
This year those special ornaments we were excited to find in our box and hang on the tree. We look forward to taking C to buy his brother a gift again. There are still some moments that I am wistful and miss him and wish I could do all those things with him that I did with his brother at the holidays.
So I think the one thing I would say to anyone having to navigate the holidays this year after their baby dies is go easy on yourself. You don't have to do what you have always done for the holidays. You can scale it back or create new traditions. If you have a support system lean on them let them help. I know it's hard when you have other children but C really didn't mind as long as we were together. He loved decorating the tree with his grandmas. He now looks forward to Thanksgiving every year and knowing we are going to eat Chinese food and see a movie. Just do what works for you.
Much love and hugs to you dear friend!
I love everything about this post. The honesty, the pain you admit to having, the calm you're starting to feel, the joy that exists right along with the pain. I love that you're incorporating Scott into your celebrations AND you're allowing yourself to miss him, to grieve for him still because you'll always miss him and always feel his absence. But to ignore that is to make things so much harder.
You are doing amazing things for C. He's learning strength and love for you, the best things we can teach our kids.
So much love to you,
I love the idea of C picking out a gift for his brother that gets donated to a child who otherwise wouldn't have presents. Its a great way to take the love you have for Scott and share it with another child who is here. I think I might steal this idea :)
Love and Hugs
This is all so true, love the advice. Last year was when we also were ready to celebrate Christmas and Sean's angelversary more so than any previous year. it took us three years to get that point as well. I love how you bought C a big brother ornament. We always buy our boys special ornaments and that would be a great way to include our angel in the celebrations.
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