This is a personal blog by Sarah Pridham and Still Aware acknowledge this may be sensitive to some readers. This blog does not reflect the views of Still Aware, however, we are sensitive to understand this blog does depict the turmoil some bereaved parents endure and there are many faces of grief. Still Aware want you to know you are not alone.
It seemed fitting to have my next blog about Christmas time since it is nearly that time of the year again.
I remember not long after our loss, Christmas was fast approaching, and I remember reading in so many books, blogs and stories about loss that the ‘firsts’ of everything were the hardest – the first Christmas, first Birthday, first angelversary, first Mother’s Day and so on. It was true – a little under 4 months after our loss was our first Christmas, well what was meant to be our first Christmas as a family with our beautiful baby boy.
It was quickly approaching and soon enough it was Christmas Eve. Yes, it was horrible – I just wanted it to be over and done with. Christmas is meant to be a time to celebrate time together as a family, to spend time together as a family and of course for children to enjoy. It was none of those things in any way possible – it was just a Christmas Nightmare.
I remember seeing so many other people posting on Facebook about what they had bought their children, watching videos of children being excited about unwrapping presents – people overjoyed to be spending time together as a family.
Then there was just us, and nothing but time that passed so slowly. I hated every minute – we were meant to be having our first Christmas with our son, our own little family. There was nothing to celebrate, nothing to be happy about and it all just felt like a big stab in the heart all over again.
The firsts of everything were difficult in many ways – but now we are not far away from Christmas time again, and I realised that it isn’t just the ‘firsts’ of everything that is hard. Christmas is fast approaching again and it is just as hard (if not harder) than last year. Again – nothing to celebrate, nothing to enjoy, nothing except emptiness where our son should be.
You may be thinking – why is it harder? Well this Christmas our son would have been 16 months old so he would have been old enough to actually enjoy parts of Christmas. We could have gone out to look at Christmas lights, he would have enjoyed opening his presents and using them and we would have been able to watch the joy on his face – we would have been able to watch him playing with his new toys. He would have understood more and been able to be involved more and that is why recently I have realised that this Christmas is actually harder than the first.
Really, when you think about it Christmas is for children – not really a thing for adults in anyway (other than enjoying making their kids happy). So when you take the children/child out of the picture what are you left with? A Christmas Nightmare – nothing to celebrate and nothing to be happy about. Really for me it is just another day that I wish to pass as quickly as possible – another day thinking about what should have been and could have been and another day at realising just how much we are missing out on – another day spent missing the most important person in my life.
When you experience the loss of a baby there are many moments in every day that are just painful and lonely but there is not time lonelier then what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year. This year is the same as the last – I cannot wait for it to be over and done with and cannot wait for New Year’s Eve to come around so that I can say goodbye to another terrible year.
There are some key things to remember when working through hard times of the year like Christmas and Mother’s Day (and many other significant dates as well). I realised that there are so many demands on my time and energy over the Christmas period from friends, family and work that self-care is the most important thing during this time – taking time to grieve and remember our son in the way that I cope and the way that feels right for me is the most important thing, even if this means opting out of social occasions and asking friends and family to rearrange visits.
I realised that they all need to realise that everyone grieves differently and some times and years will be harder than others (if those people can’t or couldn’t understand this then I really didn’t care) – I just had to and continue to have to do whatever I can and need to do to get through these times of the year.
The thing with Christmas especially, is that it means the year is drawing to a close and Christmas becomes the culmination of the past 12 months – a time when we seem to reflect on what we have done, what we have gained and in my case, what we have lost.
Christmas after baby loss is simply nothing more than a painful reminder – not only of the loss itself but a reminder of all the dreams we had and the life that we thought we would be living. Of hopes crushed. A reflection of another year without seeing our son grow up and a reflection on the loneliness and ongoing pain that we have encountered.
So what is Christmas to me after the loss of our son? Empty, lonely and painful – nothing other than another day that I want to pass as quickly as possible because you see all the families around you that get to share Christmas with their children and you are just left there with nothing but empty thoughts and empty memories that aren’t able to be made.
Instead of Christmas morning being spent unwrapping presents under the tree and seeing him play with his new toys, it is spent at the cemetery so that my son isn’t alone – it is spent thinking about how much I love him and miss him and thinking about what we would be doing if he was still here with us.
That is all Christmas is to me now. Yet another way that baby loss forever changes you and your life forever. Because the loss of a baby is forever – the pain and grief is forever – you learn to live with it all as part of your everyday life but you never live life to the fullest. Instead you just exist and you are just here but not here at the same time. Like all of the other days that come and go and pass by – Christmas time is exactly the same to me – just another day of the year.
Written by Sarah Pridham, mum of Jasper