Tips from Therapist Beth Jaeger-Skigen, LCSW on How to Cope with the Holidays
Holidays can be stressful - even in the best of circumstances. Expectations are at a peak. Pressure comes both from the outside and within to break out of the normal routine - to celebrate and to enjoy! But for the person experiencing infertility, holidays can be the most difficult time of the year.
You certainly can't make the pain of infertility disappear miraculously but by planning in advance and acknowledging that the holidays may be uncomfortable, you can prepare yourself and improve your chances of having a pleasant holiday season. Here are some suggestions for getting through the rest of the year.
Attending Holiday Parties
DO: Be selective about accepting invitations to parties and holiday celebrations (especially the ones you know there will be children or pregnant women at). Remember: you don't have to say yes.
DON'T: Feel guilty about not participating in all the traditional family events. You're going through a difficult time, and you need to concentrate on helping yourself and your partner get through the holidays.
Visiting Family and Friends
DO: Plan to spend time with couples or friends who don't have children. Consider arriving just in time for the holiday dinner rather than the night before if you find it painful to be around your young nieces, nephews and cousins.
DON'T: Rely completely on family traditions to fulfill your present needs.
DO: Spend time doing things you like best.
DON'T: Pretend that there's nothing wrong and carry on with “business as usual.”
Sharing Your Feelings
DO: Decide in advance how you will handle difficult and insensitive questions.
DON'T: Be caught off guard by unexpected or embarrassing questions about your plans for having a family. Plan your responses, but don't feel that you have to disclose all the details of your situation either!
Lending a Helping Hand
DO: Try to help others in need. Visit an elderly or bed-ridden relative; volunteer at a hospital or nursing home; or participate in a holiday program to help the homeless. Cheering up other victims of the holiday blues has a rejuvenating effect.
DON'T: Close yourself off to positive feelings and new experiences. You may find that you have a special ability to make others feel good, even though you're not feeling upbeat yourself.
Staying Tuned-in to Your Partner's Needs
DO: Set aside time to share your feelings with each other.
DON'T: Get caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays and forget about each other. You need each other's comfort more than ever.
Check out Beth's site for ongoing fertility groups: www.therapistsf.org