Surviving and Thriving in October

This may be your first October joining ‘the club’ that no one EVER hopes to be a part of. For that, we are truly sorry. Whether this is your first year in the club or perhaps you’ve been a member for a while, October can bring with it a whirlwind of emotions.

“I remember being little and loving October because it meant parties and free candy. FREE CANDY! Who doesn’t love that? Well, after a loss, your perspective about October and Halloween may instead bring up feelings of sadness. The first Halloween after my son died, it didn’t occur to me I would be triggered until I went to a family Halloween Party. The decorations were tombstones, cemeteries, and ghosts set off by scary music. I was overcome with emotion while everyone else was laughing and eating doughnuts off a dangling string (I prefer to eat my doughnuts the old-fashioned way- with my hand thank you.) My 4-year-old looked at me very confused; for us, the cemetery was a peaceful place we visited often. A sacred space for my family was turned into a commercial nightmare. I didn’t realize I would experience these complex emotions.” –Julie C.

How can I not just survive but thrive this month?

Find a Meaningful Activity to Honor Your Baby:
One of the most powerful ways to cope with grief during Halloween is to find a meaningful activity that allows you to honor your baby. Two excellent options are the Annual Share Walk and the Wave of Light Celebration. These events offer a safe and supportive space for parents to come together and remember their babies. Participating in such gatherings can help you feel connected and find solace in knowing you’re not alone in your grief.

Look at Photos and Mementos:
Take some time to look at photos and mementos of your baby. Give yourself permission to cry and let your emotions flow. Reflecting on the cherished memories you shared with your baby can be a healing experience, even if it’s painful. It’s okay to grieve openly and allow your feelings to surface; this can be a significant step toward healing.

Share Your Story on Social Media:
Consider sharing a part of your story, and your experiences of loss, on social media. You may be surprised at how many friends, family members, and acquaintances want to offer support or share their own experiences of grief. Sharing your feelings can help raise awareness about baby loss and open up important conversations, potentially providing comfort to others in similar situations.

Embrace Moments of Joy:
Grief is a complex emotion, and it’s important to remember that it’s okay to find moments of joy in your life. Embracing laughter or finding happiness in even the smallest things doesn’t mean you love your baby any less; it simply signifies that you’re allowing yourself to be human. It’s a way to balance the pain with moments of lightness, and it’s a healthy part of the grieving process.

It’s Okay to Bow Out of Triggering Events:
Sometimes, Halloween parties and activities can be triggers for your grief, as they remind you of the absence of your baby during what should be a family-oriented time, or play into tropes of horror about things you find special, such as cemeteries. It’s perfectly acceptable to bow out of any events or activities that you feel may intensify your emotions. Prioritize your emotional well-being and choose activities that are more comforting and less distressing for you during this period.

Incorporate Your Baby into Your Traditions:
Does your family carve pumpkins every year? Get an extra one for your baby. Some families choose a white pumpkin to represent their loss. You can leave it plain or carve a special design or message into their pumpkin. Do you like to look at the changing leaves? Use fallen leaves to write our your baby’s name on the ground, or create other meaningful natural artwork. You can bring your baby’s memory into the activities you enjoy to ensure they remain a part of your experiences during this time of year.

As you navigate the unique challenges that October and Halloween bring for those who have experienced pregnancy and infant loss, it’s essential to remember that your journey is one of strength, resilience, and love. Each step you take to honor your baby’s memory during this season is a testament to the enduring bond you share, even in their absence.

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