For most people, fall time is a time to celebrate. It’s a time to be with family, to share in the joys and successes of the past year, and give thanks for all you’ve been given. But the holidays aren’t like this for everyone. For some of us, the holidays are a time of grief.
Your first holiday season as a birthmother will be very different. You will yearn for your baby, to hold them and to have the family unit intact. These are sometimes overwhelming emotions to face. But, you aren’t the only one who feels this way. Many people are experiencing the same feelings of grief and loss that you are.
Birthmother grief is complicated. Unlike other losses, it can continue throughout one’s lifetime. Holidays are especially tough, because they are a time when the whole family should be together. But, you can get through this. Here are some coping tools you can use to make this holiday season a better one:
Make plans with loved ones. When we’re feeling depressed, it can be difficult to get out of bed, let alone make plans to be around other people. It takes effort to feel “normal,” and you might think that social activities will be too much to handle. But, being around the people you love will help ease the grief, and even help you take your mind off the weight of your situation for a while. Make plans, and stick to them the best you can. You’ll be surprised how much easier it will become once you take that first step.
Have a backup plan. You can’t expect every day to be a good day. Sometimes, what you need most during a time of grief is to stay at home and reflect. If getting out and being social during certain holidays is too much, give yourself a break. You deserve it, even if you feel like you have to be strong for everyone else. But make sure you’re not spending too much time alone. If you can’t make it to the big Thanksgiving dinner, invite one or two friends to stay in with you instead. Take each day one step at a time, and give yourself a Plan B for the days that are tough.
Send your child a holiday card. It hurts that you can’t be with your baby during the holidays. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t tell them how you feel. In an open adoption, most adoptive parents are more than happy to accept and receive cards and letters from the birthparents. You can make it a tradition to send your child a holiday card. It may be therapeutic to put all your feelings down on paper, just to tell your child how much you love and miss them.
Celebrate your progress. Every day, you are getting stronger. Some days you’ll see that progress, but other days will feel like you’re knocked back to square one. But, everyday should be a celebration as you move towards the future. The holidays can still be a joyous time, because you and your child are making progress, and still together at heart.