surviving the holidays and guilt from living your life 

shannon 
Monday dec 11th, 2017

Once again we are quickly approaching the day I dread every single year….December 21! 

I wasn’t always like this, as a child I LOVED the month of December!  I lived for Christmas Caroling, Secret Santa’s, Baking, Decorating – you name it I was in!!!!   But then on December 21, 1994 my entire world crumbled.  I went from hanging “Mom to be” ornaments on the tree, hanging up a tiny stocking, and planning the arrival of my sweet baby girl to picking out a casket for her all in a matter of days.  How could this be happening to me –what did I do to deserve this –how will I ever survive?

I became the Grinch – I hated the month of December – I hated Christmas – and I hated everything Christmas stood for!!!  How could GOD be as wonderful as everyone says yet take away my baby? How could GOD put me through all of this pain?  As time went on I went through the motions – I made some cookies – wrapped some presents- and sat through Holiday meals but I hated every minute of it!

As the years moved on I was blessed with four beautiful, perfect, amazing children and I slowly began to tolerate Christmas again.  My struggles however began to change!  I would find myself enjoying decorating the Christmas tree or making cookies with the kids and then immediately begin to feel guilty!  I felt like if I enjoyed all the festivities that the month of December held with my children that it somehow meant that I was forgetting about Elizabeth! Lord knows I was not forgetting, I could never forget, but the guilt was still there and just made me feel worse and struggle more.  How can I balance celebrating the Christmas Holiday with my children, teaching them about the TRUE meaning of Christmas AND remember Elizabeth Ann??  

I will not lie it has been a LONG hard road!  There are days that I cannot stand my own skin!  That does not mean that I am not truly grateful for everything that I have been blessed with over the years; it just means that some days what has been taking from me causes a pain so intense that I can’t deal with it!!! Having said all of that over the years I have learned the art of compromise which helps me deal with all of these struggles!

I have learned that I will never forget Elizabeth Ann! It is ok for me to laugh and love and smile and enjoy the life I have been given! It is ok for me to live my life and to celebrate Holidays!  I will never forget her!  I will love her with all of my heart until the day I die and I will always be able to close my eyes and see every feature of her little face!

I have learned that there will be days that I want to say Elizabeth’s name a thousand times and I want everyone that talks to me to mention her name and there are days that I can’t bear to say her name. Neither of those days makes me a bad person! It means that I am Mother who lost her baby and I am dealing with that loss the best way I know how!

I have learned that when I talk about my daughter if it makes you uncomfortable that is NOT on me –I do not have to stop talking about her because it makes you uncomfortable!!

I have learned that I am human.  I will struggle on some days and I will excel on others! There are days that I want to drown in self-pity and there are days that I feel like I am the richest person on this earth!

I have learned that I am not alone!!  There are other mother’s out there struggling with the loss of their child! Don’t be afraid to reach out to these mother’s for help! It took me 20 plus years to realize this!!  These people will help you and be there for you!! You will never know the value of these friendships until someone drive across town to give you a HUG simply because they GET IT!!

 I learned that I can love all of my children more than anything and it does not matter if they are in heaven or on earth they all have my entire heart!!  I am not forgetting Elizabeth because I love my children here on earth and you should never feel guilty for loving and enjoying what is right in front of you!!!

I learned it is ok to give yourself the day off!!!   I give myself “the day off” every December 21!  That is Elizabeth’s Birthday and that is my day to do whatever it is I need to do!!  I give myself permission to hate the day or love it – cry as much as I need to or not at all – sift through old cards and letters or work on making new memories. I don’t have to take a shower – get out of my PJ’s – or I make the day all about me Pedi’s and Mani’s –girls lunch- shopping – I don’t have to smile or laugh or I can find things to do that I love and makes me laugh all day long!  The only thing I have to do is promise myself not to STAY there!!  I have 24 hours – 1 FULL DAY to feel sorry for myself (or not)!  After that I pull myself together and carry on!!!

If you are trying to cope with the loss of your child and you have been wondering if things will ever go back to the way they were, if you will ever return to the person you were before this happen!  The answer is NO you will never ever be the person you were before! But that is ok because over time   you will learn to breathe again and smile again and live again! And some day you will look back and you will realize just how brave and strong you really are and in that moment you will realize that everything is going to be ok!!