Chances are, sometime over the next few weeks, you have a social occasion coming up. The office holiday party. Dinner at Aunt Lucy’s, complete with your cousin’s jerky husband. A party at a friend’s house, where three of the other guests are pregnant. Oh, how I hate the holidays.
Even if most of the people you see are kind, caring, loving people – People who know that your grief is still raw, that this is a difficult time, that you’re still hurting – it seems that in every gathering there’s that one person who just doesn’t get it! Someone who can’t figure out why hearing details about Jessica’s baby shower is killing you. Someone who thinks you should get in ‘the holiday spirit’ and put on a smile! Someone who you probably secretly want to smack right now.
It’s ok! Here’s your handy coping guide for dealing with that person for the next few weeks. Christmas is hard enough.
- You don’t have to go! Seriously, this is not used enough, but there is no shame in saying: “Hey, I’d love to, but….” Use whatever excuse you want! “I have the flu” is always good for this time of year, even if you don’t have the flu, but I’ll encourage you to get creative. “So sorry to miss your party, Jess, but Josh Duhamel is really having a hard time getting over Fergie and wants me to come over and eat ice cream and cry with him. Maybe next year?”
- Always have an escape route. This is good advice for any scenario, but even if you do decide to go, there’s no reason you have to stay! If anyone gets up in your business about how you’re coping, why you’re still grieving or whether you even should be grieving, just flee like the place is on fire. If it is the host of the party giving you a hard time, shout out that you think you have food poisoning as you run from the room.
- When someone gives you a metaphorical punch in the gut, it is so hard to come up with a sarcastic response right in the moment. I usually find my best sarcastic responses come to me around 4:30 in the morning, sometimes as much as 3 years after the conversation even happened! We know all the clichés insensitive jerks like to say to someone whose child has died, so prepare a few good lines in advance. But in all seriousness, it is best to only say them in your inside-the-head voice. Especially at the office holiday party. But be sure to post them here later, because other grieving moms could use a laugh!
- Your best gift is to yourself – be kind. Holidays have a lot of traditions and it seems like if we’re not keeping up, we’re letting someone down. Christmas will come again next year. Next year will feel different. No, your baby still won’t be here, but you won’t be grieving in exactly the same way a year from now. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself permission to be sad, or angry, or to feel nothing at all. All those feelings are okay. No matter what anyone else says about them.