Surviving the Holiday Season Through Loss, Grief and Pain


This time of year can be very conflicting and difficult for many baby loss parents. Typically a time of celebration and being with family, many can feel more alone, more depressed with little energy to ‘fake’ that they are okay.  Although one might expect to feel less alone with all the celebrations and family close by, we can be even more aware of the person or people who are missing & we can feel like the only ones who notice that feeling.

There are some ways you can help make the holiday season just a bit easier on you:

Have an out

If you wake up one day and no longer feel like going to that fancy cocktail party or if you want/need to leave early from a gathering it’s a good idea to have a chat with the host before hand. Just briefly mention that you are not sure you’re feeling well and might not be able to stay.

Know your limits or anticipate work-arounds

This is similar to the one above but be sure you don’t over schedule yourself. If it’s your year to host the huge family gathering it wouldn’t be a terrible idea if you asked someone else to take over this year.

Don’t Avoid the Subject

If you feel like talking about your child, do so. If you want to say their name in conversation, do so. Don’t worry about how that will affect the party or the mood – you’re with your friends and family. Faking you are ‘ok’ will take too much energy and has the potential to make things worse.

Make an extra appointment

If you have a counselor, therapist, social worker or family doctor it could be a good idea to make an extra appointment to check in just before and after the holidays. Being able to talk about your fears, your feelings and new triggers can be a good stepping stone for surviving this difficult time of year

Do a good deed

If you want to do something special to honor your child while keeping some form of holiday spirit – if you feel this would be positive to you – do something good in their name. By all means please don’t feel like you HAVE to do this. It can be damaging to put pressure on yourself to do things for others if that’s not what you need for you right now.

Don’t feel bad if you have fun

Important one. This one gets a lot of people down this time of year. It’s our mind and guilt (for no reason) playing mind tricks with us. Do not feel bad if you have fun. It’s good to have fun. It’s IMPORTANT to have fun. It does not mean you have forgotten, it doesn’t mean you are ‘over it’ and it doesn’t have any bearing on how much you love your child. These windows of happy – no matter how small or large – are good for us. We NEED them to carry us through those times where we feel the weight of grief so hard it feels crushing and we lose hope for any happy moments. Be happy, have fun.

Photo credit: adapted from Rexness | Flickr

:: Do you have any tips or something that has worked for you? What do you worry about during this season? ::

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Devan McGuinness

is the founder and executive director of the award-winning resource Unspoken Grief .

  1. Perfect advice Devan, I find myself on an emotional rollercoaster every year at Christmas and I just have to give myself a break. So many don’t understand so we have to be kind to ourselves.

  2. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday since I was a kid, but not this year… I pretty much cancelled all my Christmas and New Year gatherings. Just lay low and quiet at home with my husband, put up a Christmas tree just for my precious Acacius, and shop for a cute set of baby clothing for him as well. My husband and I have been thinking about others and doing endless volunteering for years. After this great loss, we realize we have to be a little selfish and think about ourselves first now.

  3. Dec 26th will be year 3 that I lost my son at 29 weeks pregnant. My heart still aches and I do a lot a crying alone. As Christmas nears all I can think of is the day my water broke on the 24th and how my beautiful nurse kept prayer that I would not give birth on Christmas morning. I try so hard to make Christmas a time of grief being I have two older children but inside it hurts like day 1. When will the paid ease some?