Coping with the challenges of Christmas
Is there a best way to face the festive season when it fills you with dread? Here are some tips.
Facing Christmas and the festive season when you’re childless by circumstance can be too painful to bear. It’s hard enough seeing images of family and what you don’t have and want during the rest of the year, but there’s something about Christmas that can make it far, far worse.
Perhaps it’s because this is the time of year when everyone is meant to be having fun, perhaps it’s because this time of year is so focused on children, or perhaps it’s because if you wanted to be a parent and that has not been possible then you know that whatever gifts you may receive at Christmas, there will still be a hole and that emptiness can overwhelm everything else.
So what can you do? The answer depends entirely on you. On one hand, there isn’t anything that can take away your grief and pain but perhaps there are things you can do that will make you forget these agonising feelings for a moment or more, and perhaps even find some enjoyment too.
Put yourself first. There are no rules about Christmas and what you should and shouldn’t do. If you want to spend your precious hard-earned holiday hours tucked up at home, ignoring family and friends, social media and the rest of the world, then do that. It is okay to turn down invitations to events that would simply be too painful to attend. Other people will survive and many will empathise.
We are bombarded by images of what a traditional Christmas is, but you can make your own traditions. This is perhaps the chance, if you are in a relationship, to have the time to connect on a deeply meaningful level with your partner; find out what each of you would like to do and do it. If you are not in a relationship, spend some time figuring out what would please you. Start to create your own festive traditions. They will be just as significant as anybody else’s.
If you need to, have a day where you say okay this is the day where I am sad; I am not going to pretend everything is okay. This is the day when I allow myself to feel all these emotions: anger, grief, jealousy – everything. Then tomorrow I’m going to do something that makes me feel good about myself.
If it helps, know that you are not alone. One in six couples in the UK experience fertility problems; that’s somebody on every street in the country.
Whatever happens, do not be pressured by anybody else to do something you don’t want to. This is your Christmas and you are allowed to choose your own way to spend it. Acknowledge your feelings, identify what may make you feel good and, above all, be kind to yourself.