The holidays can be a tough time of year to go through after the loss of a child, but there is also magic, joy, and peace that come with the season as well.  Surround yourself with the things you truly love to do, the people who support you, and find a way to honor your child.  Some of the steps in the holiday plan may not pertain to you or you may think “what does this have to do with any of it?”  That is alright.  If all you take from these steps are the ones that truly resonate with you, then you will still find the strength and courage you need. 

As we went through these steps, there are a few that, to us, just don’t seem to matter.  On the flip side, there are a few that have become really important and we have put into motions ways to fullfill them.  Go through these steps the best you can; following what you feel in your heart, what makes sense to you, and what will help you most in the path of healing.  Remember to go through these steps with your spouse, as both of you are grieving and healing differently.  You will each have different perspectives on them.  Also, remember to take time to honor your little and honor yourselves for all that you have gone through.  It is a tough road to follow sometimes, but there is also light on this path. 

Over time, the light will get brighter and it will get easier to breath.  Take the steps one at a time, and if you can’t take a step on your own it is okay to ask for help.  If that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.  I promise you will make it through this.  It may be a bit on the ugly side, it may not be easy, but you will make it through this. 

I send you extra thoughts, prayers, and hugs during this holiday season.  I wish many blessings for you and strength.  I hope you may find some beauty and joy in the season.  Your little angel will be near in spirit, holding your hand and guiding you through.  Lastly, I pray for peace for you.

 

 

 

How will we take care of ourselves?

Be extra certain that you take care of you and your family.  It may sound simple, but be sure to get enough rest and exercise, and eat and drink in moderation.  Take some time to create moments of solitude or time for quiet reflection.  Even though things can get really busy, try to slow down and take the moments in.  You will need a lot of energy, so be prepared.  Have those things on hand to help give you the energy you need for everything. 

                I am not sure exactly what we will do to take care of ourselves.  Hopefully, weather pending, spending some time walking outside can be added to our list.  If you don’t journal, now may be a good opportunity to take time to write.  If you don’t write, then paint or photograph or draw.  Do whatever you are drawn to that will allow you to take care of yourself-physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  A lot of what we will end up doing will be decided in the moment.  It will be more of a, what are we feeling in the moment and what are we going to do about it. 

So, how are you going to take care of you and your family?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

How will you honor you grief and pain?

Don’t try to ignore your feelings.  It is okay to grieve and it is okay to feel the pain.  It is all a part of the healing.  It is alright to feel these feelings.  The best gift you can give yourself as you go through this is the recognition of what you have had to go through, how you made it through, and with time things will get easier.  Yes, there will still be days when you miss your little one, but the pain will slowly diminish and you will begin to see the light.  Take some time to explore your past and your future.  Help yourself to recognize when you are in trouble and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Think of some ways that you can pamper yourself and what you can do to get in touch with your soul, and be sure to put them down on paper.

This season I will take extra time to light candles and maybe take a few extra-long bubble baths.  I will continue to write to help me through my thoughts and feelings.  I will take more candid photos of family and friends when I get the chance.  I will pick up my camera to get in touch with the beauty around me as well as inside me.  Most importantly, I will continue down this path one step at a time, one day at a time and count the blessings that I still have.

 

So, how will you honor the grief and pain that you may feel?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

How will you remember your little one?

There are so many ideas and possibilities out there of what you can do to remember your little one.  Really, the sky is the limit.  Do what resonates with you in your heart.  Do what feels right.  Share your ideas with your spouse, family, and friends.  See if your loved ones have ideas as well.  Some ideas are: you could visit the cemetery, make a donation to charity in their name, decorate a wreath in memory of them, burn a candle over the holidays, hang a tree decoration, or light a candle at church.

                We are looking for just the right ornament to hang on our Christmas tree.  I am also considering getting a special stocking, if I can find one that resonates within my heart.  I am pretty sure, at some point in the month of December; we will make a trip to the cemetery and memorial wall.  We are including a special dragonfly and poem in with our Christmas letters this year.

 

So, how will you remember your little one?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

What will you do?

The holidays are filled with traditions.  There are family traditions that we have been doing for years, decades even and as our family grows, so do our traditions.  Sometimes over the years we change, adapt, or keep the traditions.  With the loss of a little one, you begin to wonder what you will do.  Are you keeping the holiday traditions you have?  Are you going to change them?  Are you going to add to them?  Or, maybe even a combination of them all?  Then there is decorating the house for the season.  This time of year seems to be the time of year people go all out when decorating.  Are you going to decorate things the same way?  Who will do the decorating?  Will you still put the tree up, and if so who will put it up?  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  If you are usually the one who does this and the tasks seem overwhelming you can ask for help.  Between the shopping, wrapping, and cards it’s no wonder that most people get caught up in the hustle and bustle.  When you add grieving to this list, those items can become too much to tackle on your own.  We are all going through this process differently.  I have talked to people who choose to go away to a destination or remain at home doing their own quiet thing.  While yet others want to be surrounded by family.  The choice is yours and you need to do what fits you and your spouse best.  Holiday cards can be another tough decision.  If you decide to send out cards, do you sign your little one’s name?  Do you include a special remembrance?  Do you include them in your family letter?  This too, is something you need to talk with your spouse about and make the decision based on what your heart tells you.

                We plan to follow the flow and traditions of years passed.  The tree will go up, once we decide where to put it and will be decorated with all our special ornaments.  I will decorate the house for Christmas and winter.  This is by far my most favorite time of year to decorate and I go all out.  I know Samantha won’t be here to take part in it, but if the house wasn’t decorated I feel like it would be emptier.  I married into a family who writes letters for Christmas, so every year we have written a letter talking about the year, as well as what might be in store for the new year.  This year will be no different, we will write a letter, but it will have a few additions.  We included a little paragraph about Samantha and in honor of her we included a little dragonfly, as well as a poem that I wrote.

So, what will you do?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

What might you be feeling?

You won’t truly know what you will be feeling on a specific day until that day arrives.  Plus, moment to moment can change on you.  What is important is that you are prepared.  Be prepared for anything and everything, but try to remain flexible with how it all ends up going or could go.  Have your support with you or near you throughout the time, and be honest with your feelings.  As happy as a time of year this can be, there may be some things you are dreading.  If possible, take some time to look at and analyze those items, then create a plan.  If you need to, consider taking time away from those items.  If you can’t walk away from those items, which is okay, try to think of ways to make it easier to get through them.  There will be points where you and your spouse will feel the same thing, as well as those around you.  There will also be times when you all will not be feeling the same thing.  So, make sure you give yourself time to decompress…whether it is through journaling, going for a walk, having some alone time, or just relaxing.  Be certain to be there and be a support to each other.

I don’t know what I will be feeling leading up to the holidays and during the holidays.  I do know that I will go for walks, record my thoughts, and probably take a lot of photos.  My hope is that even though Samantha is not here with us, that I will still find light and joy in this season.  I will try to find beauty and magic in the season.  All this is possible because she is in our hearts.

So, what might you be feeling?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Who are you going to be with?

The holidays bring about a time of year where you will be surrounded by people.  For some people this will be okay, for others not so much, and yet others will have many mixed emotions or feelings about this.  So what do you do?  Take a moment to think about the people you will be around, whether for an extended time period or just a couple of hours.  If there is anyone who doesn’t support you in your grief and healing process, then you may want to consider how you will spend your holiday time with them.  Do you do what you normally would with them or do you change things up?  This could be anything from changing the venue in which you get together or even changing the lenght of time you meet.  Celebrating a holiday, especially the first one, without your little one can be tough to go through.  Be sure to surround yourself with those who truly do support you and the process you are going through.  Even if you are unable to get together with some of them during the holiday time, make sure to have a way to be in contact with them if possible.  Each person, each couple will go through this differently and a level that they can handle.  So, take the time to talk with your spouse and loved ones to keep them informed on what you are feeling and what you need.   A piece of advice I heard from someone was to have a backdoor plan.  Basically, an exit plans if things get to be too overwhelming.  Create a code word with your spouse that either one of you can say if you find it necessary, then you can make your exit.

 Fortunately, our family and friends are very supportive through all of this.  We also are rather open and honest about it all too.  So, we will be spending our time with family and friends.  If it comes down to it and I need some space I can easily go for a walk, or if I need to talk there will be someone nearby that I trust that I can talk to.

So, who are you going to be with?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Where will you be?

For a lot of people the holidays means a time for travel.  For some, it could be across town and for others it is across the country.  Whether by road or by air, most of us usually end up traveling some distance to be with family.  Traveling can be exciting, but even though your trunk may be full of gifts you may feel that your arms are still empty.  The thought of this may cause a debate with yourself, your spouse, and your family.  Do we travel this year or do we choose to stay home?  Along with this thought is, do you or will you accept the usual holiday invitations?  What about new holiday invitations?  I have heard it both ways.  Do you choose to skip the usual invitations, but go to the new ones where most people there don’t know your story?  For a moment, you can live the way you did before your loss.  Or do you skip the new ones because people won’t understand what you’re feeling and do the usual ones because you would be with people who know and understand.  Something else to think about…will you be including different activities at home for just your family?

We will continue to do what we always do for Christmas.  We head to WI for an extended weekend to spend time with both of our families.  Fortunately, both of our sets of parents live about six blocks from each other, so it makes it easier to see all our family.  As far as invitations go during the holiday season, we don’t get many, which we are fine with.  We get the usual work holiday parties, which most likely we will go to.  Seeing as it is just my husband, two cats, and me at home, our family activities will remain the same.  I will decorate the house, we will decorate the tree, but we are planning to add in a few new decorations this year, and there will be some holiday baking.

So, where will be?  What is your plan?  Share below your thoughts, tips, or ideas.

 

Raun and I have faced many holidays since we lost Samantha.  She died in January so we have faced Easter, Mother’s day, Father’s day, and Thanksgiving so far this year, and soon we will be able to add Christmas to the list.  The first year of holidays is tough.  I have run the gamut of emotions.  I am happy to be with family and celebrate, but saddened because Samantha was not there to be a part of it.

Thinking back to when our due date was, she would not have been born yet for Easter, Mother’s day, and Father’s day.  We would have still been pregnant at the time had there been no complications with the pregnancy.  Either way, because of when she was born, January, we faced those holidays without our daughter here on earth.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with a very supportive family and strong group of friends.  With them, it has been easier to get through the holidays.  Instead of moving through them in a blur, I have been able to be present and to find some joy throughout them.  On each of those holidays, our family has honored and remembered Samantha in some way.  Even though she is not here on earth, she is still a part of our family and our family holds her closely in their hearts.  They show it through their words, prayers, and cards.

I know this may not be the case for others out there who have lost their little one(s) through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.  I have heard stories of people’s relationships becoming strained with their family members, in-laws, or even their spouse after the loss of their child.  Sometimes, even friendships are broken because of the loss.  My heart aches for those who have lost this supportive circle.  Most of the time it is because people just don’t know what to do or say, so it becomes easier for them to ignore what happened.

Holidays can bring the best or the worst out in people, no matter what their life situations are currently.  The holidays bring a different disposition to most people.  For those who have experienced the loss of a child, this time of year becomes tough in a whole different way.  They are celebrating a holiday, but they aren’t able to have their little one with them physically to celebrate it too.  This creates a tension.

So, I want to help give you the tools to create a plan in hopes that you will find your burden a little less and that you can  find happiness and beauty in what is in front of you.  I will provide some things for you to think about and help set steps towards a holiday plan.  Your answers and feelings may differ than your spouse’s, so be sure to sit down and talk through these things together.  I will also share with you what my husband and I will be doing.

Raun and I are truly excited for the holiday season.  Yes, we will miss Samantha and will feel saddened that she won’t be here physically to celebrate with us.  But, we do know that she will still be celebrating with us in spirit.

I send you extra thoughts, prayers, and hugs during this holiday season.  I wish many blessings for you and strength.  I hope you may find some beauty and joy in the season.  Your little angel will be near in spirit, holding your hand and guiding you through.  Lastly, I pray for peace for you.

 

A friend of mine gave me an idea…she was doing 30 days of Thankfulness.  All to often we rush through the next couple months getting ready for the holidays.  We get busy getting the house ready, cooking, spending time with family and friends, getting ready for the change in season and spending the last few nice days outside as much as possible, shopping, and the list goes on.  It seems that after Halloween time speeds up and flies by and before we know it we are in a new year.  Well, this year I am going to slow down.  I am going to take the time to share my 30 days of thankfulness over the next several weeks.  I consider these things to be blessings, things I am grateful for, or just plain thankful to have in my life. 

So here goes…We are six days into November and here’s the start of my list.

1. My Husband-honestly I don’t know where I would be without Raun.  He is truly an amazing guy.  We’ve been around each other for the past 16 years, which means we have been through a lot.  He has been there through thick and thin, the good and not so good, all the while giving praises, comfort, support, and inspiration.

2. My Family-both my imediate family and extended family.  We may all be scattered throughout this country, but we are still close to one another.  This creates a strong support for one another, good conversations, fun, and down right togetherness.

3. Our Baby Girl-A quickly as we found out we were pregnant Samantha left our world and grew her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about my life, faith, me, and family.

4. Close Friends-honestly I do not have tons of friends.  But I am okay with that because the friends that I do have I am very close with.  We would do anything for each other and we are always there for each other.

5. My Cats-I know this may seem odd to some out there, but those two fury little critters bring a lot of joy, comfort, and laughter.  To me, that is truly amazing.  They seem to know when things are good or bad.  When it’s been a tough day they are there waiting  to snuggle on your lap and share a purr of comfort.

      

6. A Home-a place to call our own.  A shelter, a place to come home to and find comfort.

Even though we are already a week into November I encourage you to slow down and take the time to think about about what you are most grateful for this season.  If you aren’t able to do 30 days of thankfulness, then create a list of 10 instead.  What are you most thankful for, blessed with, and greatful for this year? 

Share your lists below!  I look forward to reading yours and I look forward to sharing with you the 24 things on my list.

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