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With the holidays all around us many of us, including me, struggle with feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression when we’re “supposed” to be happy. We may go through the motions and even have moments of pure joy.
Though my daughter is still young at just over 2 and therefore I haven’t been on this birthmother journey for very long in the whole scheme of things, I’ve felt recently as if I shouldn’t be sad. After all, I have a great relationship with my daughter’s parents, talking to T via email approximately once a week. We haven’t had a visit since the beginning of October, but that’s to be expected. We’re all very busy, especially in the midst of the holiday season. I already know that T has ordered us some pictures and is planning to send us their Christmas card as well. Also, this isn’t my first time through a holiday season without my daughter. I did this last year and survived just fine. Technically I’ve been through 2 holiday seasons without my daughter, but the first one was rather unique as I was also dealing with my man’s deployment.
There are birthmoms who will read this and say that they’ve been on this journey for much longer than I have, and those who may be encountering the holidays for the first time after placement. The grieving process is much newer for those birthmoms, so I tend to give them a pass, so to speak. I look at myself and think, “Why am I sad? I shouldn’t be!”
But recently I’ve realized that it’s okay to be sad, no matter how new or old your placement. It doesn’t matter if you placed 23 years ago and are hopefully in reunion or if you placed 2 months ago and the wounds are still acute. Certainly we don’t want to be stuck in that sadness if at all possible especially if we’ve gone through several of the grieving stages already, but it is okay to revisit those stages more than once.
I have a birthmom friend who is experiencing her first holiday after placement, though she placed at the beginning of this year. She has sent me texts acting puzzled as to why she might be thinking of her daughter more than usual and being sad about it. I’ve told her that it’s okay to be sad, and especially the holidays cause us to think more about our children than usual and that’s okay too. Apparently I have issues listening to my own counsel. No more! It’s okay to be sad. I don’t have to have a specific reason or trigger to think about my daughter and be sad or miss her more than usual, and neither do you with your own placed child.
I will give myself a break this holiday season. I will allow myself to grieve when the feelings come, and I will not be ashamed of them or try to change them. Will you?