Christmas Day is here. If you are new to baby loss grief, this is likely a day you have been anticipating with dread for quite some time. If your family is anything like mine, everyone has been asking what is on your Christmas list, trying to pull ideas from you since Thanksgiving Day. And this year, more so than other years, they may want to give you something extra special, something that will put a smile on your face.

Christmas is the time of giving, after all, but this year may be different. This year you may need a pass. I remember how painful my first Christmas was without my son. The only thing I wanted, the only possible thing to put on my Christmas Wish List, was my son. I wanted him back in my arms with every fiber of my being, and I would have traded places with him in a second, given the chance. Can you relate?

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Have you thought what you might want to give to yourself? I know we don’t typically give ourselves gifts, but this year you deserve it. You deserve to give yourself the gift of permission. Permission for what, you ask?…

…Permission to skip that holiday celebration that you are dreading. Permission to bow out of your family obligations for today and concentrate on yourself. Permission to stay home and binge-watch your favorite show. Permission to just sleep the day away. Permission to do what feels right for YOU today. Maybe permission is to surround yourself with family and friends, maybe it is to celebrate yourself at home, or maybe it’s spending the day in bed working on self-care.

In my support circles we often say to have a Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. That way, if you wake up on Christmas and just can’t do your Plan A, you have already thought about what you might do instead. And if Plan B also just doesn’t feel quite right, move on to Plan C. And even if you do muster up the strength to go to your Plan A but start to collapse from the weight of the grief? Then it’s time to move right along to plan B or C. Giving yourself options on anticipated days can often relieve a little of the dread you feel.

It can be hard to give yourself permission. I understand. I struggle with it too. Obligations, especially family traditions, are real. Ultimately, it is pressure to do something based on what somebody else wants. Today, however, can be about you and your grief. So if you can’t give yourself permission by gifting it to yourself, please allow me. I give you permission to do what feels right today. This day is hard enough without adding undue pressure to yourself. And that Christmas wish list your family has been bugging you about? Simply ask them to give you permission today to skip the big hoopla, skip the traditions, and skip the ceremonies.

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For the past few years in our local support group, our December activity has been writing permission slips. I hand out a paper that states: I, ___, give myself permission to ____. I grant myself this permission to honor and cherish my baby ____ and to take care of myself. Then it is signed and dated.

For some just thinking about what you give yourself a pass on will be enough for you. For others, the act of literally writing out the permission slip is needed to take the pressure of certain obligations away. When we do this act of release, we do it as a way to honor our babies as well. Take that day full of pressure, and put your energy into you and your baby.

So today, give yourself permission to do what feels right for you. Your loved ones should understand that this is what you need this year, and I hope they give you the gift of supporting you at this moment, on this day.

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