When you lose someone important to you, their absence is felt deeply.
An empty seat at the table. A gift you don’t have to buy. A call you don’t have to make. Part of a conversation that is missing. A hug you don’t get.
But what happens when that person wasn’t around for very long? What if there are no memories to lean on when you’re missing them so badly? What are you supposed to think about when their existence in your life was more of a possibility than a full, meaningful life?
Pregnancy loss hits hard in ways you are never ready for. Grief, in general, comes back in waves and overtakes you when you least expect. But often the way to move past the sadness is to think about all the happy times you shared with that loved one. You can think of their love, and everything they meant to you. You can remember their smile, their laugh, and the way they talked about things that were important to them.
When a baby is lost in pregnancy, remembering them is a whole different story. Everything about them is what might have been. How old they would be today and what they might look like. We can only imagine the color other hair and how tall they would be. If we’ve given them a name, we wonder how well it fits their personality. Are they quiet and reserved? Are they outgoing and bubbly? Did they have blue eyes like me, or brown like Daddy?
Its hard to miss someone when you feel like or are made to feel like they never existed. And during important times of celebration like Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be especially hard to navigate grieving someone important to very few others than yourself. Or maybe just you. Maybe you never even told your family or friends about the little life you held within you for only a short time. And that’s ok. But feeling like you can’t remember your baby because it might make others uncomfortable isn’t.
Your baby matters. Your experience matters. Your pregnancy matters. Your memories matter. Your grief matters.
Taking care of your heart this holiday season might mean different things for you while in the wake of postpartum grief. Before it might have meant going to every party and gathering that came your way, but this year it might mean saying no to some of them. Maybe it means journaling about all the things you wish you could share with your baby. Or buying a special ornament to commemorate your baby to hang on the tree.
Whatever you need to do in order to cope with your loss during the holidays, always remember:
You do not have to talk about it.
You do not owe anyone an explanation.
And it’s not your fault.