Coping with grief during the holidays

Red mittens holing a heart shaped snowball

The holiday season is a time for gathering and celebrating, but it can also be a difficult time for those who have lost an infant. It doesn’t matter if it was recent or not; even if parents and families have resumed their daily lives, the grief of losing an infant never goes away, whether it’s months or years ago.

Everyone grieves in their own way, but there are some personal steps that can be helpful in coping:

  • Understand that sometimes the anticipation around an impending holiday can feel worse than the day itself turns out to be.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Get plenty of rest and exercise.
  • Make time for yourself or for the things you enjoy.
  • Do what you are comfortable with, and decline invitations for whatever you are not.
  • Don’t be afraid to change traditions or add to existing ones.
  • Light a candle.
  • Add a special ornament or decoration in memory of your baby.
  • Donate a book to hospital, church or public library.
  • Volunteer during the holidays.

And if outreach is needed, at First Candle we provide different forms of bereavement support, allowing people to choose which is most comfortable for them:

  • Grief line. One-on-one support and access to materials, as well as to local support services where they are available. 1-800-221-7437.
  • Bereavement library. Resources on surviving the sudden death of a baby, and guidance on coping with anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and considerations about having another child.
  • Peer-to-peer online support groupsA safe and supportive space for individuals and families to talk about pregnancy and infant loss. They provide an empathetic outlet for feelings of grief, anger, anxiety, and depression, with shared personal experiences, emotional comfort and moral support. There are different groups for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), stillbirth, and miscarriage.

Those who grieve are not alone, whether at the holidays or throughout the year.