I was personally dreading the upcoming holiday season, the 2018 Holiday Season was supposed to be different. I was supposed to be big and round with a belly sticking out. Thanksgiving weekend we would have traveled home to NYC for my first shower and the weekend after would have been my second shower, where we live. Those weekends, they came and went. The sadness stayed.
This Christmas would have been different, I had dreamed of taken amazing silhouette pictures by the tree, of wearing cheesy outfits and of snuggling my growing bug. This holiday season won’t be as expected. I have spent the holiday season wrestling with myself regarding how I feel and I have come to the conclusion that two contradicting truths can exist and often go hand in hand.
I can be in a place of grief and mourning yet still be thankful. I can have an attitude of gratitude and still be sad. It doesn’t have to one or the other, it can be both. In this season of grieving, I have learned a lot, I have learned what works for me and what doesn’t. I have learned to put the process of my emotional healing first and I have learned to be unapologetically me, despite the ugly things this type of grief brings out.
I have learned to be kind to myself and that it may look different for everyone and may vary from day to day. So what does “be kind to yourself” mean to me?
- It means to not beat myself up for how I feel. It means to embrace where I am for the moment, to cry when I feel like crying and to laugh when I feel like it. It means to not feel guilty for feeling happy or embracing moments of joy. Often times when you lose a child you feel like you are betraying them if you feel happy, laugh or sing. But I’m not betraying them. I’m embracing life and living it.
- Being kind to myself sometimes means giving myself a gentle nudge to get out of my funk, sometimes it means to force myself off the couch and do something else. But sometimes it means staying on the couch and do nothing else.
- Being kind to myself means treating myself with love and respect, to be patient with myself, to understand that I need to make this journey my own.
In this holiday season I have learned to embrace that my normal will no longer look the same, I will have a new normal, my life has been forever marked by the loss of my child. In my new normal I need to learn how to have joy in the midst of loss and that is a task that is not easily attained. So this Christmas we decided to start new traditions, traditions that we would have hoped to start once we had kids, but why wait?
I’ve never had a real Christmas tree before and this year we decided would be the year to start. We went to a beautiful tree farm, spent an hour in the cold and snow to find the perfect tree for us. So let me tell you, even though we don’t have our baby with us we were able to have found and enjoy the start of something new!
This Christmas I would encourage you to embrace your season, dig deep within yourself and don’t be afraid to live!