Alone For The Holidays
As I write this, we are just under two weeks out from Christmas. As much as I try to get excited about the holiday season, I often find it hard to get into the spirit of things. Last weekend we hosted our 6th annual get together with two other couples we met through a baby loss support group. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions. I have found some peace in spending time with others that have lost a baby and understand the impacts it has.
One of my other favorite holiday traditions is to place lights on our 40’ White Fir that is in our backyard. After the loss of my daughter in 2004, I wrapped the tree in white lights; of course it was much smaller then and a lot easier to access. After the death of my son Noah 2006, I started to alternate the light strands between white lights and blue lights. Decorating this tree to honor them gives me great pleasure this time of year, but I also can’t help to think about the fact that my wife and I have no living children.
Every year it becomes more difficult to get excited about this time of year. There seems to be a constant reminder that no matter how much Christmas “spirit” we have, we will never get to see the excitement of our own child on Christmas morning. We feel alone during this time of year more so than others. We know in time, we will lose other family members such as our parents, which means the holidays will continue to become lonelier for us.
My wife and I went through extensive fertility treatments in order to be able to conceive Katie and Noah. Only later to realize we lost them due to severe fetal abnormalities. My wife and I are carriers of a rare genetic disorder called Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome. One in every 120 people carry the mutated gene, but it takes two people to come together in order for a child to become inflicted with it and even then it’s only a 1 in 4 chance. Having gone through the pain of losing two children and the risks of it happening again, we choose not to continue on with fertility treatments. We could continue to play the odds on conceiving a baby that is not inflicted with this syndrome, but we feel it would not be fair to the children that may be.
We have also looked at adoption, but with both of us in our early-mid 40’s, these options are also starting to become smaller. Not to mention I still carry the fear of losing another child. There were days I didn’t think I would survive the losses of Katie and Noah, so to put myself in a position of possibly losing another child scares me. Although adoption is something we still hold on to as a possibility, we also know that every year the door continues to close just a little bit more on that option. I fear the loss of another child more than I fear the possibility of being alone during these times of celebration.
As part of my healing after the death of Katie and Noah, I started the Grieving Dads blog and wrote my book Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back to help other men going through the most profound type of loss imaginable, the death of a child. I do take great pleasure in knowing my work in this area continues to offer support and hope to the many people that find themselves on this horrific journey.
Although many of us carry our own struggles during this time of year, I want all of you to know you are not alone. Although it may feel that way, there are many other parents struggling with the same pain and “what-ifs” that many of us are.
I know it’s difficult to find peace during the holiday season; I want to encourage all of you to continue seeking it. Continue to hang on to hope for internal peace.