Cherri Forsyth – Life Coach
Cherri Forsyth – Life Coach
“Survival kit” for the first few Christmas’s after the loss of a child.
Christmas is often a very difficult time for many people who have experienced the loss of someone close to them. I am writing this from the perspective of the loss of a child, but it can apply to the loss of anyone close to you.
How can we get excited about a special family time, when there is this huge gaping hole where our child used to be? How can we try and be joyful, when we feel like part of us has been physically ripped away from our bodies. How can we be joyful when we feel totally broken? We feel as if every day is grey, without energy to do even the most basic things.
Do we feel like putting up a Christmas tree? No.
Do we have the energy to shop for gifts? No.
Do we want to be surrounded by people who can’t understand how we are feeling? No.
Do we want to plaster a smile on our face, and pretend we are happy? No.
Do we want to go to an emotive Church service? No.
Do we want to go through all the same traditional exciting activities that are repeated every Christmas…those things special just to our family? No.
The above things are too painful to bear- because our hearts are too vulnerable, tender and sore. We feel so fragile, as if we could shatter into a million pieces when we have to endure one more painful emotion.
So what can we do to make it better for ourselves?
We can realize that others who have not experienced a loss cannot possibly understand how we are feeling- acknowledge this, and treat them with compassion. But, having said that, accept that they will try to make us feel better and most of the attempts won’t work. But let us recognize that they are trying, but they don’t know what to do…and before our loss, we may well have done exactly the same things. So try not to be hurt, patronising or judgmental toward them.
What else can we do to “guard our heart” and make sure we “ weather” Christmas? You may like some ideas and dislike other suggestions listed below- so just take the ones you like, and discard the rest.
1. We can go somewhere totally different for Christmas day/holidays– where we have never been before, so that we are not confronted with memories of previous happier years.
2. We love to talk about our child who had died- with laughter and tears, so bring them into the day. The worst thing is for everyone to pretend that our “angel children” never existed. We honour their memories by talking about them.
3. We can light a candle next to a photograph of them, so their light is still felt on Christmas day.
4. We can change the routine of Christmas day completely, and not do the same things we have always done. It is too heartbreaking to do those same things without our special souls with us.
5. We can place a small picture of them somewhere on the Christmas tree– they are angels after all!
6. Don’t do anything you feel you ‘should’ do, only do those things you ‘want ‘ to do.
7. Write a letter to your “ angel child” to be read out ( or not) on Christmas eve just to the immediate family. This often releases a lot of pent up emotion, and allows a slightly more peaceful Christmas day. Mike, Cath and I found this to be exceptionally healing.
8. Visualise how Christmas day will be, and know that it WILL be different– so try and prepare yourself for the different feelings you may have, the way others may treat you differently- don’t expect that it will be the same- it will never be the same again.
And finally, a message of hope: the joy of Christmas does eventually return! I know it may not feel like that now. Christmas will never be the same, but as our hearts heal, we learn to let the joy in again. And then we feel the joy even more intensely, because we have felt such devastating pain.
On Christmas Day, our thoughts, prayers, love and care are specially with all who have suffered crippling losses.
Written by Life Coach Cherri Forsyth- on behalf of the Angel Mums Support Group…
Cell: 082 801 8961