Grieving at Christmas

Grieving at Christmas

As the days pass and I learn how to better manage my emotions, sometimes I am still surprised by an unseen wave of incoming grief. I typically try to allow myself to feel the emotions (the good and the terrible) as they come, so I am “comfortable” when the rough times happen. Still, there are times when I don’t see it coming and find myself in a swirl of confusing and frustrating feelings.

Christmas was a surprising one for me. For some reason, despite the “hugeness” of the holiday, I didn't think it was going to bother me. I had my mind set on celebrating the things we do have and the people who are here with us. I wasn’t going to focus on what was missing. I thought I was in control of my feelings.

Turns out this time of year, the first Christmas after Calvin’s death, is full of emotions. Saying this now I can only laugh at myself because who did I think I was fooling - OF COURSE this season would bring all sorts of feelings, and not all of them joyous. And that is just fine. If you are experiencing grief or trauma of any sort this holiday season, it is perfectly okay to not feel happy and magical every single moment of the day. But how can you deal with those emotions, and give yourself space to grieve?

Now that I am aware of all of my mixed feelings, I feel better capable to ride the waves as they come. One thing in particular that is bothering me about this year was that I had obviously thought this was going to be our first Christmas as a little family of three, with a nearly seven-month old baby to spoil and start our own family traditions with. I don’t feel right carrying on without acknowledging Calvin in some way. For me, the worst thing possible is ignoring his existence. I have been working on some ideas to gently incorporate his memory into our home, and possibly make some new traditions to honour him year after year. I don’t have all the answers, but I have a start.

One thing I found immensely soothing was getting together with some other local loss-mamas and creating Christmas ornaments in memory of all of our babies. It was a wonderful night of crafting & chatting, and such a comfortable & safe place to share our hearts & our children. Coming into the holidays, creating an ornament for Calvin hadn’t crossed my mind. I have been creating all kinds of other ornaments and decorations this year, but now this memory ornament is definitely the most meaningful one. And now that it is something I have, I realize how important it was for me to create a space to remember Calvin during the holidays too. Give yourself the grace to create a space for whatever it is you are grieving, as well.

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