Page 6 - 2016 Autumn-Winter Issue
P. 6

© Konstiantyn/                             Coping with the

                                                      by Bob Baugher, Ph.D.

                                                      Holidays used to be a wonderful time of year. The death of
                                                      your child may have changed much of the way you move
                                                      through the last weeks of the year. In this article we will
                                                      look at how bereaved parents coped during the months of
                                                      November and December during the first few years following
                                                      the death of their child.
                                                      As I’ve done in previous articles I called on parents and said,
                                                      “I’m writing an article for TCF magazine about coping with
                                                      the upcoming holidays. Looking back, what did you do that
                                                      helped you through those rough two months?” Here’s what
                                                      they said.
                                                      On December 23rd four of us couples met at the cemetery
                                                      where our children are buried and we had a short ceremony
                                                      at each child’s grave. We each brought a coffee can with a
                                                      candle inserted in it and something to read such as a poem or
                                                      letter to our child. We lit the candle, did our reading. In this
                                                      way it signified that our child is with us. We leave the candles
                                                      and coffee cans and pick them up the next day. Years later
                                                      it continues to feel good to look forward to taking this day
                                                      out for our child—to honor our child. As we finish at the last
                                                      grave we do a closing ceremony (such as holding hands or
                                                      singing a song). Afterward we go out to dinner.
                                                      Perhaps you’re not ready to do anything. Here is what a
                                                      mother said:
                                                      What helped me during the holidays was absolutely refusing
                                                      to smile and refusing to carry on the usual traditions. I did
                                                      what was comfortable for me. My relatives didn’t seem to
                                                      like it; but I was a mess and just couldn’t bring myself to do
                                                      any sort of so-called “celebrating.” The first year I actually
                                                      stayed by myself. The second year I scheduled myself to work.
                                                      This year I may either do volunteer work or head to Canada.
                                                      Thanksgiving is great in Canada—no Thanksgiving!
                                                      Here is what a couple has done since their son died six years ago:
                                                      The first year I went to the mall to buy people things. I
                                                      walked into the stores, looked at items, picked them up, and
                                                      put them back. I walked out of store after store, frustrated.
                                                      So, I didn’t get anybody anything the first year. The next
                                                      year I went to a craft store and bought a large candle, a little
                                                      artificial tree, miniature lights, and decorations. We put the
                                                      candle and tree in our kitchen, where we spend the majority
                                                      of our time. The candle stays lit all day. Over the years we
                                                      buy ornaments that remind us of our son. At holiday dinner,
                                                      just before we eat, we each go around and say the name of a

                           6 |We Need Not Walk Alone
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11