December 13, 2023

Navigating the Holidays After Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss

Ideas to consider as you think about how to move through the holiday season.

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Navigating the Holidays After Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss

The holiday season is a time for celebrating and gathering with loved ones. For those who have just experienced a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, the season may look and feel different. Being surrounded by joy may resurface feelings of trauma or depression.

Whether you have announced your pregnancy already or if the loss happened behind closed doors, the holidays are likely full of tricky situations and triggers that can feel impossible to navigate. It’s important to plan ahead where you can, prioritize yourself, and lean on your support network. Below are some ideas to consider as you think about how to move through the holidays.

Set boundaries for yourself

While we love our families, they also know just how to push our buttons and cross our boundaries. If someone does bring up your loss and you aren’t ready to talk about it, you do not owe them a conversation or an explanation. You could say something as simple as, “I don’t want to talk about this right now.” Keep it polite yet firm, and walk away from the situation.

Don’t force yourself to spend time with people whom you know you will find triggering; for example, a pregnant friend or a nosy relative. Consider arriving late or leaving the gathering early. You could also take a break from social media, skip opening holiday greeting cards, or do your holiday shopping online to avoid the crowds.

If hosting a gathering, taking long road trips, or getting on an airplane seem overwhelming, it’s okay to change the plans or ask for a rain check.

Have an advocate and an exit plan

When relatives cross the line or ask uncomfortable questions, it can be hard to speak up for yourself in the moment. Staying close to a partner or trusted friend can help them stand up for you by saying something as simple as “let’s talk about something else!” 

If you need a break and a few minutes to gather your thoughts, you could “forget something in the car,” run to the store, take the dog outside, or hide out in a spare bedroom.

If you think that you might want to leave the festivities early, tip the host off in advance so they aren’t surprised or confused when you make your exit.

Celebrate however feels best to you

Spend time with those whose presence you truly enjoy, and give yourself permission to decline invitations that you just aren’t excited about.

Maybe you don’t want to put up your Christmas tree at all this year. Perhaps you want to memorialize your little one with an ornament on the tree. There are no right or wrong ways to both celebrate and grieve.

Try doing a good deed

This season is filled with ways to give back to your community and those in need, and donating your time or resources may feel fulfilling to you. Your local food bank or clothing drive is always looking for donations, but especially this time of year. You may enjoy spending time at a nursing home or animal shelter.

Try cleaning out your closet and donating unwanted items. You could also make a monetary donation to an organization that supports your community or a cause you appreciate.

This could even be as simple as paying for someone else’s order at the coffee shop. Giving back can help change your perspective, and give the mind a chance to shift its energy.

Share feelings with family

Many people want to support you in your time of need, but might not know what to do or say. Miscarriage and pregnancy loss happen to an estimated 1 in 4 women, yet it’s rarely talked about. Sharing your feelings openly and honestly, and letting loved ones know what you need from them, can help you ensure you have the support you need.

Everyone is unique; some may prefer not to discuss their loss and celebrate as normal, while others appreciate sharing their feelings when given the opportunity. This may look different for everyone, from simple text messages to in-person conversations.

Practice self-care

Your social calendar is likely to be packed between work obligations, travel, and family get-togethers. It’s okay to decline an invitation if you aren’t feeling up to it, or leave early if you aren’t truly enjoying yourself. Take time to do what brings you joy, be it a manicure, a hot bath, or some quality time on the couch with a good book. Don’t forget to take care of your physical well-being too by getting a full night’s sleep, drinking plenty of water, and eating nutritious meals.

Seek comfort where you can

If you haven’t already, this might be a good time to reach out to one of our therapists or try out our support group or a local group. Many find comfort in their faith communities and may appreciate attending services. Or, you might enjoy regularly scheduled walks or coffee shop dates with a close friend.

If you feel that you cannot manage your emotions on your own or with these support systems in place, please know there is no shame in asking for help from a professional.

It’s okay to enjoy yourself!

If you do find yourself laughing and having fun at a party, that’s great! Sometimes a sense of normalcy can be helpful in the grieving process. Spend time with people who make you feel loved and supported, and it may help distract you for a few hours.

Although feeling joy during or after a loss can trigger feelings of guilt, give yourself permission to relax into the moment. Emotions are complex, and it's okay and normal to feel multiple conflicting feelings at once.

Give yourself grace this holiday season

As we move through the holiday season, remember that your feelings are valid and personal. This time of year can be particularly challenging, but it's crucial to honor your emotions and experiences. You have the right to grieve, reflect, and find moments of joy in your own way.

It's okay to create new traditions or take a break from old ones. Your journey through grief and healing is uniquely yours, and there's no prescribed way to handle the holidays. Whether you find solace in solitude, the company of close friends and family, or in creating new memories, do what feels right for you.

Above all, be kind to yourself. Grief can be an unpredictable companion, and it's okay to have fluctuating feelings during this season. Remember that seeking a little support can help you get through the challenges that come with this time. We'd love to invite you to join us for our weekly group support sessions, or to match with one of our therapists or coaches. Each of them are handpicked for their experience in helping women move through miscarriage and fertility challenges. Click here to learn more.

As you move through the holidays, may you find moments of peace, understanding, and gentle healing.

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