Don’t Should On Me

As we approach the holiday seasons – at least, for some religions and some countries – I keep asking myself what I want this first babyloss Christmas to look like.

Should we include Anderson on our Christmas card? If so, just his name, or a picture?

Should we go with the religious cards (which our relatives will expect) or the more vague “Happy Holidays/Season’s Greetings” – since we’re both still struggling with our faith post-loss?

Should we ask that he be remembered on Christmas Day? We have a stocking for him hanging above our fireplace at home (it was his last year, too, when he was 22 weeks in gestation) – but we won’t be home for Christmas. Should we bring it?

Should we do something special on Christmas? Or save it until his birthday on January 5th, or death day on January 31st? Since K has to be in DC for work on January 5th, should I go with her so we can celebrate together? Or is the 4th a “good enough” time to celebrate, knowing that if he were alive the one day wouldn’t matter?

All these Shoulds. The one unifying factor? They all imply that there IS a “should,” which in turn implies there is some one way these situations are to be handled for maximum meeting-of-others’-expectations. Why do I care so much what others think? Why can’t I turn it off?

This first Anderson-less holiday is about him. It’s about me, and about K. It’s not about making sure the people who receive our Christmas cards feel comfortable and safe in their grief of our son. It’s about making sure that WE do. The choices we make are for us and our family, because he is our son and it is our job to honor him and remember him in the way that is best for us, not for others.

I’m going to try, this Christmas, to do what I need to for my own grief and try not to think so much about how others might be judging me in my grief. It is hard to strike that balance between “she moved on too quickly” and “she’s moving on too slowly” in the minds of others, and since that balance is different for every person, why am I even trying? My son has been dead less than a year. He was wanted so very badly and loved so very much.

For more insight on this topic, see Lori Ennis’s post on Christmas past (which also links to a prior article on how she remembers her three boys at Christmas. And remember – this Christmas was always going to be different – we would have had a nearly one-year-old build new memories with. So I’m going to make your new traditions to remember Anderson, who will be very much present in our hearts and minds this Advent, as we await the birth of someone else’s baby boy in a little town is modern-day Israel.

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8 Responses to Don’t Should On Me

  1. meghanoc says:

    yes and yes. I am a total victim to the “what do people think” mindset. I’ve always been sensitive- I think most of us are to some degree, we are human after all. I had a long talk with my therapist today. One of the things I struggle with is appearing happy because then other people will think I’m done grieving. this mindset of course limits how happy I let myself be (that and the guilt I sometimes feel, cuz you know, how can I be happy, my baby died?) It is such a huge huge internal battle- to just let myself grieve how I want without worrying about how others think and perceive. I really enjoyed the article you linked to, too. thank you!

  2. J says:

    We opted to not include our son on our Christmas cards. We actually didn’t discuss it. Neither of us even considered pictures with him in them. I think we are both just hoping to avoid confusion among our sometimes-clueless friends and family. Chances are, they’ll think we had a different baby, or forget that our baby even existed in the first place and we’ll have to explain it–much more painfully–all over again. In a way, I feel guilty. He was part of our family this year, physically, not just spiritually like he will be in the years to come. But it means less pain for us and possibly for others, and right now that matters I suppose.

    • babylossmama says:

      I think that’s where we’re leaning, too. K doesn’t want to put his name on the cards; we may go with “The Z Family,” which is both inclusive of Anderson and yet… won’t sound like we’re, what, pretending? I think that’s what I’m afraid of – that people will get our card, if it had his name, and think, “Oh, those poor things, they’re still insisting he is “alive” this Christmas!” Which is weird, because, well, we do still insist he is here with us (spiritually) this Christmas. And what about if we have other children? If we put there names on the card, what will we do to ensure Anderson is on it, too? Argh. Social niceties are so hard!

  3. typhaine says:

    I relate to many of your questions, on how to “celebrate” and what message i might inadvertently be sending out about where i am in my grief. Also, despite reading your posts regularly, i never noticed how close the dates of birth and death of our boys were. Paul was born January 4th and died february 1st.
    I suppose in the end, there is nothing that “should” be done, only babies that should be here…

    • babylossmama says:

      Wow! I don’t know if I knew how close Ander and Paul were either! And you’re right – no matter what we do, does it matter? They’re not here, and that’s the only thing that does matter sometimes.

  4. jasmineshei says:

    Holiday is especially hard for me as well. I start to buy Christmas ornaments for my lost baby, each year. This will be the 2nd year. it feels better to do something for him!

  5. Great post. I have been contemplating how to handle the holidays. Things were supposed to be so different. We too have a stocking for our daughter but will be out of town. I have debated bringing it with us. You are right though – this year we shouldn’t be concerned with others and should instead focus on what I can do to help with the healing process for myself and my husband.

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