Christmas can be an extremely difficult time for anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby. With so much focus on family, children and socialising, those living with loss can feel even more isolated and alone in their grief. Here at Sands we want to reach out to any bereaved families feeling this way over the festive period. You are not alone.
What can help?
Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas in ways that you did before your baby died, make new traditions or bypass Christmas altogether, there is no set way to get through the festive period. Listening to your own needs, which may change on a daily or hourly basis, is important when making plans or spending time with others.
We asked the Sands Community on Facebook to share ideas of what helps them cope over Christmas. We received a huge response, with so many people acknowledging just how tough this time of year can be.
Here are some great ideas from the Sands Community of ways to remember your baby at Christmas:
- Make or buy a special festive decoration in memory of your baby, maybe with their name on
- Say your baby’s name out loud and talk about them to friends and family
- Donate a gift for a child who is the same age that your child would be, perhaps to a refuge or children’s charity
- Visit a special place – where your baby is buried, where their ashes are scattered, a memorial garden or favourite place for remembering them
- Light a candle in memory of your baby
- Write a Christmas card to your baby and keep it in their Memory Box or stocking
- Use the days of advent to do random acts of kindness for others in memory of your baby
- Put some special time aside to sit and remember your baby
- Instead of sending Christmas cards, make a donation in memory of your baby
- Attend a Sands Lights of Love Christmas service
Be kind to yourself
There can be many demands on your time and energy over the Christmas period from friends, family and colleagues. Self-care and taking time to grieve or remember your baby in the way that feels right for you is important. This may mean opting out of social occasions, asking friends and family to rearrange visits or just spending time with those people who are the most supportive.
Everyone grieves differently and some years will be harder than others for many different reasons. Sometimes within families different ways of coping with feelings and grief have the potential to create tension. Try and be honest with yourself and others about your needs and open to how the needs of others may differ from yours. There is no right or wrong way to feel at this time of year or any other.
Children and Christmas
If you have other children or grandchildren, you may feel it is important to create special memories for them. You may want to include them in activities to honour and remember your baby that has died, such as hanging special decorations, visiting a special place or adding to a memory box.
Children have different levels of understanding of death at different ages so they may have questions or thoughts that they have not shared with you before. It can be helpful to think about how you talk to children about your baby that has died and how you want to include their memory in family activities, if you choose to.
You don't have to face it alone
If you would like some additional support from Sands over the Christmas period, you can access it in the following ways:
Sands Lights of Love Services
Each year in December, Sands holds Lights of Love services around the UK to honour and remember babies that have died and support bereaved families in coming together at a particularly painful time of year. The services include carols, readings and a special candle lighting. Find your nearest Lights of Love service.
Sands Online Community
This is a safe, moderated online space for bereaved parents to support each other and share experiences. Once you have a log in you can access the site 24/7 to read and share posts with other users. Visit our Online Community.
Sands Bereavement Support App
The Sands Bereavement Support app was created for anyone who has experienced the death of a baby. It aims to help bereaved parents and families to find the right information and support at the right time. The app can also be used by healthcare professionals, who would like to know how best to support bereaved parents and their families. Available to download from App Store or Google Play.
Sands National Helpline
Call 0808 164 3332 (Freephone) or email email@example.com
• Thursday 23rd Dec – 10-2pm and 6-9pm
• Friday 24th – 10-12pm
• Saturday 25th - Sunday 26th – Closed
• Monday 27th – 10-2pm
• Tuesday 28th – 6-9pm
• Wednesday 29th – 10-2pm
• Thursday 30th – 6-9pm
• Friday 31st – 10-12pm
• Monday 3rd – 10-2pm
• Tuesday 4th Jan – normal opening hours resume (10-3pm Monday to Friday and 6-9pm Tuesday and Thursday evenings)
Sands Bereavement Support Materials
The information and support booklets that we provide are available to read and download.