How to Survive Grief During the Holidays

I originally wrote and published this blog in 2010, but it bears repeating…

The holidays are just around the corner. Everyone will be shopping, planning menus and throwing parties. Holidays are supposed to be about fun, family and being thankful. But what if you don’t have a lot to be thankful for this year? What if you’re in the midst of a miscarriage or an IVF cycle hoping for a miracle? How do you function when you feel out of control or hopeless?

This time of year can be difficult, if you’re having infertility issues or have experienced a pregnancy loss. It’s can be emotionally overwhelming to attend family gatherings where children will be present. Sometimes it’s a painful reminder to see other families with children when you are wishing for one of your own. It all depends on “where” you are in your process.

Whatever you are feeling, let me assure you….YOU ARE NORMAL. Infertility is a serious medical condition and affects you on all levels–emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. So, give yourself a break this holiday season.

If you’re not looking forward to the holidays, here are some coping strategies to help encourage you during the months ahead:

  • Plan “ahead.” Where do you want to spend the holidays? If you’re not up for frolicking and fun with 15 nieces and nephews, then get out of town. Consider going away to a remote cabin in the woods with your significant other. You could even invite a few good friends who also want to get away from the regular holiday rituals. …

One year my husband and I went skiing during Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to get away from it all. We enjoyed our own private dinner in our condo. It was a fun trip that took our minds off of IVF injections and doctor appointments.

  • If you’re in the middle of an IUI or IVF cycle during the holiday season, decide how much detail you and your partner are willing to share with family and friends. If “mums” the word, then that’s fine. Just know each other’s comfort level and respect one another’s privacy.
  • Do you have a counselor? Seek out a professional counselor with experience in infertility. It might help to talk with someone who knows what you’re going through during the holidays. A professional counselor can provide additional support during difficult times.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed by crying. You’ll release a lot of toxins out of your system when you cry. It’s normal to cry at the drop of a hat, or when you see children in the malls. We live in a culture that constantly reminds us that being a “family” is the norm. When you desperately long to have a family of your own, but can’t, you may feel abnormal. Just know that you are not alone.
  • Give yourself time to process the emotions you experience. Also, understand it will take some time for you to process your fertility options, and figure out what is the best path for you to take.
  • Find a support group. Talk through your feelings and thoughts with people who are nonjudgemental and understanding.
  • Set your limits this holiday season. If you dread going to Aunty Betty’s house for dinner, then don’t go. Send a simple RSVP card or give her a call. Tell her you appreciate her offer but it’s not a good time for you to visit.

About lesley

Lesley Vance is the author of Infertility Journeys, Finding Your Happy Ending.
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