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With the holidays fast approaching, many of us are struggling with our grief more than usual. It makes sense, after all. Holidays bring into sharp focus the fact that we’re not with part of our families.
So what can we do to help ourselves get through the holidays?
Surround yourself with supportive people. It doesn’t have to be other birth moms, though having others around who are in the same boat can be wonderfully healing. Just don’t allow yourselves to fall into the trap of hating adoption in general due to your shared pain. My daughter’s 2nd birthday was last Thursday, which just happened to be the day when my normal birth mom group meets. Though we didn’t spend much time talking about my daughter at all, it was healing to be around other people that know the pain that I was feeling. If you can’t be around other birth moms, find people that know your situation and can be sympathetic. Distraction via other people can be a great thing too.
Celebrate your child. Even though your child may not be physically with you, you can still “include” them in your celebrations. Set a place for them at the table. Light a candle for them. Have a piece of pumpkin pie in their honor. Part of group last week was having a carrot cake (my favorite “flavor”) in my daughter’s honor. It was nice to celebrate her existence and to sing her a happy birthday song even though she wasn’t there physically to appreciate it. I know that even if I’m not part of a support group next year that I will have or make cake (or a cupcake or 2) for her birthday. You can do the same thing for your own child.
But I also know this may not be appropriate for everyone. Celebrating your child so literally may either not be possible due to the circumstances you find yourself in over this holiday, or it may cause more pain than it alleviates because it can rub the fact you’re not with your child in your face.
Be thankful. Focusing on the good in our own situations no matter how many negatives threaten to overwhelm the positives can make the bad seem not as bad. Even if you don’t get contact or your contact’s been closed, you can be thankful that your child is being raised by the people you chose for them. You can be thankful in the trust you have in yourself for making the best decision you could make at the time. No matter what may change after placement, there’s no way to guarantee that the same things would have changed were you raising your child. I’m personally grateful that my daughter is being raised by the wonderful people that are raising her, and that she fits in personality-wise with them and their extended families so well. I can focus on that even if sometime in the future our relationship encounters a rocky road or two, and I can focus on that during this family-centered holiday.
Do you have any traditions of your own to share that you think would be helpful for someone else? Do you think that you’ll start any of these traditions listed in your own celebrations? Please feel free to post in the comments below. We’d love to read them!