When the holidays make you sad.
If you are grieving the loss of a pregnancy this holiday season, you aren’t alone.
It’s almost Halloween, typically my favorite holiday and gateway into the “holiday season” and I’m carving pumpkins tonight with my husband and his two children. Usually this would bring a nostalgic glow into life and lift me up for the upcoming winter season, but the truth is, I’m just sad.
I guess that isn’t really true either… I’m not just sad, I’m overwhelmed with sadness.
Last year during Halloween, I hadn’t found out I was pregnant yet — that a little seedling was growing inside of me. It wasn’t until just before Thanksgiving that I shared the news with those closest to me and looked around the room at our family, picturing next Thanksgiving with a little one nestled safely against my chest. Unfortunately, by the time Christmas came I found out the baby wasn’t coming. She wasn’t going to be the star of the next year’s holidays and my empty womb made me feel empty, too.
It’s almost Halloween again and there is no baby. I’m dreading the holidays this year because they feel empty without her and I still feel empty, too.
It seems like everyone else I know is pregnant or having more children. Each pregnancy announcement stirs up more of the sadness and longing to have something it seems like I will never have. I try to be happy for all the other moms-to-be, but all I feel is overwhelmed with grief for the baby I lost and for the space that nothing has filled since her.
It’s impossible for the holiday season not to bring up emotions of grief and loss for those of us who have had the loss of a pregnancy or child. The entire energy of the holidays is all about children and the curiosity, joy and playfulness and they bring into families. We can’t help wonder what it would be like if our baby had made it and they were here right now, in this moment, and, what we would be like, too.
I don’t know that there’s really anything we can do to heal the sadness we feel, but I know that, the more we share about those feelings, the more women who have lost a pregnancy will know that they aren’t alone.
As a therapist who makes dealing with emotions and grief her daily job, I’m not going to tell you to “be thankful for what you have,” to “not lose hope,” or to “look on the bright side,” I’m simply going to tell you to feel what you feel. Cry. Sob. Wail on the floor if you have to, because the one thing that you cannot do is keep all of these overwhelming emotions bottled up inside. I’m going to tell you that it’s normal to feel the way you do, that you deserve to have your feelings and that there are countless other women feeling that way, too.
There is no “quick fix” in the grieving process, and sometimes that means we just have to survive the holiday season and comes to terms with our own feelings. As hard as it is to accept that our hands, wombs and hearts are empty this year, the only way to heal is to face that reality and the emotions that we feel with a sense of patience and self-nurturing.
I may feel overwhelming sadness this holiday season, but I know I am not alone. I know that my feelings are what they are, and that I can’t hide from them or bottle them up inside of me, but I can share them with other women so that they know they aren’t alone, either.