By Sarah Rivers Deal, Ph.D.
The holidays are a time we tell ourselves we should be happy, we should be grateful. However, for those entering this season with empty arms, the numerous child-focused celebrations are a constant reminder of what’s missing; a deep, unrelenting void where the child wish resides.
Grace Rao and I had the honor of facilitating RPC Austin’s first virtual infertility psychotherapy group that ended last month, and we asked group participants as well as individual clients that struggle with infertility and/or pregnancy loss to contribute, and here is what these courageous women in the trenches shared. As the author, I have taken the liberty of combining common themes and expanding on various suggestions.
Give yourself permission to hit the eject button, informing people you care about that it’s a possibility you may decide to not attend or to leave early. If you want to share holiday host etiquette suggestions, I recommend checking out grief coach Sarah Nannen’s website below.
Set better boundaries. Pleasing others at the expense of your own well-being is a losing prospect. “No” is a complete sentence.
Have your designated wingman if you do attend a holiday event. Let this person know you need them to check in on you, what to look for if you’re in distress, and how to respond to you. If your wingman can’t be there in person, have them on speed dial.
Wear an object that is symbolic to you, representing what’s been lost and how you honor your grief during this challenging season. This is referred to as a “grounding object,” which may anchor you during the storm.
Do something for yourself. For example, go on a trip, something you don’t typically do, possibly creating a new tradition. Do anything to help yourself feel less stuck in a rut.
Make space for your grief. What you resist, persists, and finds a way out somehow. Don’t let the business of the season rob your truth. All those struggling with infertility are grieving parents.
Do what brings you joy. And if that feels impossible to do, that’s okay too.
Contribute to the well-being of another. In the darkest of hours, being the light for someone else can help heal ourselves.
Recommended resources for further support:
The National Infertility Association - resolve.org
Austin Share: Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support – austinshare.org
Sarah Nannen – grief coach - sarahnannen.com