by Clara Hinton
Depression is becoming as familiar as the common cold. Because we are now aware of the symptoms of depression, we can more easily identify when a person is suffering from the pain and loneliness of depression. By being aware of what to look for, we can now use skills that can help us diminish symptoms and sometimes avoid holiday depression following child loss.
Probably the single most difficult thing to face is the reality that your child will not physically be with you during the holiday. Because the word holiday reminds us of such things as parties, family gatherings, and festive occasions, one can easily slip into depression just by thinking about trying to carry out the familiar holiday traditions you once experienced with your child.
If you have younger children in the household, explain to them that this year will be a little different. Call on grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to help with your younger children. Ease the guilt you have about possibly taking joy from your living children by allowing other to help! During the holiday season, you will find that most people are receptive to helping, so don't be afraid to ask. You will find that more help is available than you imagined.
Call your family together and choose doing something a little different. Change the menu for your meal. Visit a church in a nearby community where you won't feel embarrassed if you cry. Celebrate the holiday on a different day, if the actual date of the holiday is too painful for you. You might even choose to go out of town for the holiday. This is a good time to break away from past holiday traditions. Doing things just a little bit different helps to ease your pain.
Remind yourself often that grief depletes you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Exhaustion lends to depression. Don't expect too much of yourself. Instead of baking cookies, buy them from the supermarket. Don't worry about cleaning your house. Ask friends to help. If you don't feel like facing a lot of people in stores, order your gifts on the Internet. Rest should be your number one priority.
Holidays often magnify the feelings of loss you are experiencing. It is normal to want your child with you now more than ever before. Instead of trying to push away your grief feelings, let your tears fall. Release some of your emotions through prayer, journaling your thoughts, and seeking the emotional support of family and friends.
Remember, you will never "get over it", and that's okay. But, you will "get through it", and a day will come when you will do so with inner strength and a positive reserve of peace and joy. By preparing for the holidays without your child, you can actually have a bit of control of an otherwise out of control situation. This, too, will aid you in diminishing holiday depression. Each step forward is a step more in your journey through grief. With proper planning, you can make it through the holidays using the skills you&'ve learned for avoiding holiday depression.
Clara Hinton is a Certified Grief Facilitator, founder of The Silent Grief Website, and the author of four books, including Silent Grief. She is the author of a weekly newletter and has contributed to Christian Woman and Church and Family magazines. Clara speaks on college campuses on grief and is a keynote speaker at women's retreats. She has been interviewed on radio stations across the nation and appeared on various TV programs. Clara is a stay-at-home mother of eleven children and wife of 31 years.
copyright © Clara Hinton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.