Thoughts on the new year…
By now we’ve all made it through the holidays and now we face another new year. This can often be a difficult time of year, even harder than the previous weeks when we perhaps expended all our emotional energy getting through Christmas. The distraction of the season is behind us and ahead lies the vast expanse of another year without the children we’ve lost… a “new” year that we would give anything to bring our child or children into with us but cannot and may feel afraid of leaving them behind us in the “old” year. Much is written about coping with the holidays but little it seems about facing the New Year. Here are some of our thoughts⁄suggestions of things you can do to cope with the loss of your children in 2003, and bring their precious memory with you into another year.
· Was there something you felt the need to do for your child⁄ren over the holidays or another anniversary but it just didn’t happen? Give yourself permission to do it now (write the card to them, buy the toy or ornament or flowers, visit the cemetery, etc.)
· Ask for what you need from your families and friends – do you want to talk about your children – do you want recognition on special days – do you need time away from the demands of daily life to work through your grief? Ask and keep asking until someone listens! If those close to you can’t provide what you need, try someone in our network or others whom you may know in your area.
· Is there something that you’ve wanted to do related to the loss of your child⁄ren? – take time now to make at lease one step forward in making this a reality. This might be to create a special memorial, put together a scrapbook, or work with an artist or photo retoucher to create a good picture of your baby or babies who died, and one of your multiples together if you didn’t get to seem them or have a photo of them together.
· Do you have questions still unanswered about the pregnancy and birth, and the death of one or more of your multiples? – take time to see whether there are ways to pursue the information that you need, you deserve to know everything that you can and it helps promote healing.
· Set aside some tome to be alone with your lost child⁄ren – time to cry, write, remember, look at photos and mementos.
· Start a journal about your child⁄ren and your feelings about them and the process of working through your loss – if you have a survivor⁄s you may choose to share it with them someday.
· Write (or finish and send) your story⁄poem⁄article for Our Newsletter (and don’t worry about it being “perfect” – we’ll input it and send it to you to look at before it’s printed).
· Join our parent contact list and get in touch with someone else on it.
· Locate and invite a few multiple birth loss parents in your area to meet informally and share your experiences.
· Attend a local bereavement support group or help start one if none exists (check with us for info on resources). As long as you are getting support on the special “multiple” aspects of your loss from CLIMB and elsewhere, a local “regular” loss support group can be really helpful on the things that all grieving parents have in common. Before going to a group for the first time, it can be helpful to call the group leader and ensure their sensitivity to your type of loss and situation, and find out whether there may also be other multiple birth loss parents.
· Consider contacting your local twins and multiples organizations and offer to send them our information so they can have it on file; offer to be a contact parent.
· Distribute our materials in your area – hospitals, doctors’ offices, twin clubs, childbirth educators, etc. We’re happy to provide a master copy of our flyer and some other materials.
· Speak up whenever you can. Many people in our society simply don’t know how much multiple birth loss there is, how devastating it is to parents, or what helps parents – and it would probably help both prevention of loss and support for loss if there were more awareness. Telling your story in a newspaper article, as some have – writing letters to the editor or the television station in response to a particular article about multiples – making sure that your caregivers know what the impact of your loss has been on you – and simply talking to ordinary people about it when possible…all help to increase awareness.
· Take a realistic look at how your grief and loss have impacted your important relationships with your spouse⁄partner, your other children if any yet, your close family members and friends, and yourself. If you feel that you are stuck in a negative place in any of these areas, give yourself permission to seek support from marital, family or individual counseling. This is one of the most positive gifts you can give to yourself and those you love – those of us who have been there know it can be a lifesaver, and something you can count on to help get through a time that is naturally difficult and confusing no matter how good your other support is.
You are worth it!
Lisa M. Fleischer
…with Jean Kollantai. Help us add to this!