I wrote the following blog post 4 years ago, but because of its popularity and the fact it still holds true today, I thought it would be good to share it with all of the new grieving dads that have followed this blog since 2011. Wishing you peace.
‘Tis the Season
It’s that time of year again, the time of year that bereaved parents struggle with all of the anxiety from the anticipation of what the Holidays will bring in the way of unwanted gifts, Holiday memories. For some it’s the past Holiday memories that cause the pain while others, like me, it’s the lack of memories since both of my children were babies when we lost them.
I come from a Christen background so for me it’s the not knowing what it’s like to take my children to church service on Christmas or watching the excitement from your child as they open gifts on Christmas morning. Since many of the followers of this blog come from different religious backgrounds, I am sure many of you have similar types of Holiday traditions that cause you to reflect more during this time of year than other times.
Regardless of your religious beliefs or lack thereof, this time of year is tough because it also brings the end of another year without your child or it marks the first year without them.
I get a lot of emails from grieving dads this time of year telling me how hard it is or emails asking me for ideas on how to navigate through these 2-3 weeks. I wish I had all of the answers.
The one thing I have learned from the hundreds of conversations I have had with grieving dads is that many of the dads that have found hope in their lives again are doing something to create a legacy for their child as a way to honor them and their life.
Living to honor our children’s life can take on many forms. The way we honor our children is very unique and personal to the individual. It’s important to do things to honor our children throughout the year, but it’s especially important during the holiday season.
I remember the first Christmas following the death of my son Noah; it had been about 6 months since he had died. I was at a locals Macy’s department store when I had a meltdown that came out of nowhere. I found myself hiding amongst the fake Christmas trees. I was hiding because I was unable to control my crying and I didn’t want others to see me. What triggered it were the pink and blue baby ornaments that they had displayed on the tree. My mind was thinking about the “what if’s”, the “what could have been’s” and the “what will never be”.
Over the years, the holidays have become easier for me. Not easy, but easier.
I have a large pine tree in my yard and one of the things I do every year is decorate it with blue and white lights as a way to let Katie and Noah know that I am thinking about them. It’s the only thing I decorate on the outside of my house. However, the Christmas tree on the inside of my house is decorated with ornaments such as those pink and blue baby ornaments that use to trigger many emotions. No, the Holidays are no longer the same. I have no living children to enjoy the holidays with. All I can do is find ways to let Katie and Noah know that they are with me.
I have spoken to many grieving parents regarding how they handle the holidays. Some of the ideas that they have given me include: donating gifts to less fortunate children, sponsoring a family in need, volunteering at a food kitchen, visiting a children’s hospital or a retirement home. These are all excellent ways to honor your child. Some may appeal to you while others may not. If you can, try to find a cause that reminds you of your child. If you’re not feeling strong enough to take on big tasks, you can do something as simple as lighting a candle in their honor. Try to do something.
Wishing you and your family a peaceful Holiday Season!
What are your plans for the Holiday Season?