In mid November we celebrated Max's 2nd birthday, and in just a week we'll be thinking of him on his "angelversary." While I sort through Christmas ornaments, I find ultrasound photos with ribbons glued on the backs; photos of babies we've yet to meet for decorating our tree. Another Christmas, just the 2 of us.
For us, the holidays are a bittersweet time. We feel so blessed with such loving family and friends. We are so fortunate to have 2 (almost 3!) sweet nephews to spoil with love and Christmas presents. But it's hard to not have moments, realizing what we don't have. I'm incredibly grateful that we'll always remember our sweet boy during the happiest time of the year, and it's comforting to know that we'll never be alone when we are missing him the most. But there is always a little bit of grief still lingering in our hearts when we think of what could have been, for all of our babies.
For everyone, grief will be different. For some the healing will take much longer than for others. For some, talking about it will help. For others, they won't want to bring it up.
Maybe someone you love may be grieving the loss of a child or pregnancy. Maybe there is someone grieving for a family they have yet to be blessed with. Maybe someone has recently lost a spouse or a parent. It might be the first Christmas since losing them, or it might be years later.
So, as a friend or family member of a grieving loved one, what can you do?
Plans may be cancelled last minute, or just plain never made. Don't be offended or upset with them if they just can't deal with a party or activity at this time. Be understanding of what they can and cannot do.
Whether it's a birthday, an "angelversary" (anniversary of death date), or just a difficult time to be without the one they've lost it's never wrong to acknowledge what a loved one is going through. Gifts that represent special attributes and sharing memories are great ways to help celebrate the life of someone lost. Even a simple text, "Happy Birthday to Max!" or "Thinking of you guys today and hoping you feel peace today" means so much. Keep it simple and appropriate to the individual.
Since everyone is going to grieve and heal differently, remember it's always okay to ask what they need from you. You can email, text, call or take a private moment to ask your loved one, "How can I best help you during this time?" and then deliver on it. Sincerity is extremely important. Don't ask, if you're not willing to do it.
I feel so incredibly fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends who have been and continue to be so supportive of our journey through infertility and loss. However, I know that many struggle to find that support in their own lives. If that's you: I encourage you to speak up. Speak your needs. Let others know how they can help you get through this difficult time. Sometimes, people really struggle with empathy and they need a push to do what is right.
Above all, remember, THIS IS STILL A GOOD LIFE.