Sunday, December 4, 2011

Holiday Grieving

Grief, I know many birthmoms who feel such debilitating grief during this time of year. Some people believe the pain fades away, but they are wrong. In the first few years my reactions to the pain were stronger, because the pain was newer and I had no skills to deal with it. In the same way that a strong smell is overwhelming at first, but as you sit in it you forget it is there. Only occasionally, when someone else comments on the smell, do you remember it was there. It's always there, always a part of the atmosphere, but you simply become immune to it's power over time. The amount of anguish I feel over missing the Holidays with my son has not diminished over time, as some would believe it has. I don't cry as often about it, that is true, and I have many more moments of joy than I used to. This is not because I have moved past it, it is only because I have felt these emotions so often that my reactions have changed. I certainly have a support system to turn to, and I also have more skill at looking through the grief to the happiness on the other side.

I love the Holiday season, I always have. I remember waiting impatiently for Christmas morning, shopping for my siblings and friends. Being so excited to see their reactions to my gifts. I can certainly find that excitement again, and I enjoy all of these things as I always have. With Cookie around, it's a little more easy to do, because I get to give her gifts and see her reaction to them.

I will confess, for a long while I have not sent Christmas and birthday gifts to my son. Some birthparents find a certain amount of relief in knowing their child will be able to get gifts from them. My enjoyment in giving has always been about seeing the joy that those gifts entice. I lost interest in sending gifts when I realized that I would not be able to see him enjoying them. I buy him things when we visit, and I love seeing him light up like that. Perhaps it sounds callous that I would not send anything, and maybe it is. I know my mom sends them gifts occasionally, and I know they don't expect gifts from me. Another problem the last few years has been my financial status, it's tough to get together the money for sending gifts when you are a single mom, or living on your own, surviving paycheck-to-paycheck.

This year things are different, so I made the resolve to send them something, even if it is something small. I sent them a picture already that Cookie colored for them. I also have a book to send as well. It's hard not to want to buy an entire store out for them, but I am taking it slow.

I know that this year will be just as hard as the last 7 have been, and I will miss seeing Dawson open gifts and participating in many other traditions. I will be able to experience those things with Cookie, and that is some help to me. I also know that A will be there to lean on when times get tough for me. I hope that those who are not part of the adoption world will understand a little better how these occasions can effect a birthparent. I also hope that birthparents out there will understand they are not alone. The sadness and grief are normal, and you will get through it. I wont give you false hope that this will go away, but I will say that it gets easier. I suppose that is the best we can hope for.


Monika said...

The joy in giving gifts for me is seeing my gifts enjoyed as well. It killed me that I only got to hear little tidbits about my daughter enjoying her bday gifts this year (and I got pics - yay!), and it's killing me that I have to put her Christmas gifts in a box and ship them south because we won't have a visit before Christmas, so I know exactly why you don't send gifts to Dawson. Love your analogy about grief being a strong scent you simply adjust to having around. Great one! And you too...are not alone. I'm glad you have a support system (count me among it), and that you'll get joy from seeing Cookie open gifts this year. Love you!

Coley said...

For the first few Christmases I got to give Charlie his gifts but then I wasn't going to see him on Christmas and I had to pack them in a box and mail them even though it was just an hour away. That was HARD. It felt cold and empty putting those presents in a box so I can completely understand why you don't mail gifts and I don't think it makes you callous at all. It makes you real.