Coping with the Holidays: Ideas
compiled by KotaPress & WA MISS

One of the great blessings I get from being a part of the MISS Foundation is to be a part of the facilitator's mailing list. A few weeks back, Kim Lotz sent around a note for an idea about helping bereaved parents through the holidays (see article this month titled, "Holiday Gift Giving Idea: Adapted"). And soon after her post, many other facilitators came forward with these FABULOUS ideas for how they cope with the holidays and how they help other bereaved families to get through it all. I was so overwhelmed and encouraged by this out-pouring that I decided to compile the ideas into a list for our Kota readers.

Hope that you, too, will find inspiration and courage from these amazing ideas -- the holidays are never easy after the death of a child. It doesn't matter how long it has been. So take heart, you are not alone. Take comfort, you might find some support in one of these:

From Jana, California Chapter of the MISS Foundation

I made a point to have some memento at each Holiday [support group] meeting, which means just about every month. For our first meetings, I try to give a pin to each parent (hand or foot print) with their child's name on it. Usually it is worn to Group only. For March I did a clover with the child's name, for December - an ornament. The quilt squares are wonderful too. You can supply the pre-cut
fabric and batting, along with puffy paint, buttons, etc... and work on them together during a meeting. I was surprised how into it the Dads were.

For Christmas and Thanksgiving I have decorated a cemetery in the children's section with flowers and a Kindness Card from our MISS Group. This gets the web address out for those who are suffering the Holidays alone.

I have arranged guest speakers for Holiday meetings, too. Some professionals who have had a personal experience are willing and eager to donate their time during the Holidays. My focus is always to make it a time of celebration, rather than slipping into the dark depression. I use the Holidays as a time of "celebrating" the many ways in which my life has been blessed by the child who has left us.

Setting up peer support during the next few months can also be very helpful. I use to send a MISS group card to each family that I had been in contact with and recognize their special child.

From Heidi, Minnesota Chapter of the MISS Foundation

I came up with a nice idea for signing Christmas cards.

I got a very small angel paper puncher. (If you are thinking of doing this, I recommend buying more than one. I actually have 3, then I always have a back up when mine starts to get dull.) I punched out a little angel at the bottom of every card, just under or after our names. The first year I did this, I sent out a small typed up phrase (with another angel punched out at the bottom), that said,

"The little angel at the bottom, is in memory of our precious little Natalie. It is our way of symbolizing that although she is no longer with us physically, her spirit will forever be part of us and our family."

(More than a year later I saw that my father-in-law had framed it and put it in his bedroom.)

Now I punch a little angel out of every card I send, not only Christmas cards. My friends, family, co-workers, and everyone we know understand what it means. It's my way of reminding them of Natalie and making sure that no one can forget her, letting them know that she is still very much a part of our family.

I have heard of another mom that does the same with an angel stamp.

From Mary, Illinois Chapter of the MISS Foundation

Each year at our support group meetings in December, we try to have a "holiday party" so to speak. While we are talking, we provide materials for everyone to make an ornament for their angel(s). The dads really dig using glue guns!! The people who have been with us a while say that these are
absolute treasures to them.

The ornaments are usually making an angel of some sort. Last year we did a seashell body with a wooden ball for the head, craft store wedding rings for the halo, and wood hearts put together with the points touching on the back for the wings. We also had a small ribbon that was glued on like a necklace with a bead that was the color of the birthstone of the baby. We glittered up the wings ahead of time and spray painted the seashells white. They really turned out nice.

We also have candles there that they light when they come in. We also ask people to bring in music they like that we play in the background. I think personally, it is my favorite meeting of the year, and we provide a safe place to "celebrate" with people who understand. We also give them a gift from us, usually another ornament.

So often, as we all know, the holidays just suck. We try to make it just a little easier.

From Patrice (I'm not sure which chapter, sorry!)

The one thing that I found helpful last year is - I bought some inexpensive plastic angel ornaments from Big Lots (they are red, green or clear and they open up). I gave one to each member of our extended family and our close friends and asked them to write something to Geneva for Christmas. They could write whatever they chose to and then they were supposed to put their notes in the ornaments and bring it to our house to hang on our tree.

Craig and I loved seeing all of the filled angels on our tree and especially liked reading all of the notes after Christmas as we were putting the ornaments away. (I wanted to wait to read the notes, because putting the Christmas decorations away is very depressing for me.)

We also do this at Easter time with plastic easter eggs.

From Joanne, Founder of MISS Foundation National

I always include Cheyenne in our Christmas cards (they are usually pre-printed)-- for example:

"Like the unseen breeze, the presence of those loved and lost remains with us always."
This holiday season we remember our daughter and sister, Cheyenne.
Take time this season to remember...

From Kristin, California (Arcadia) Chapter of the MISS Foundation

Something my husband and I did last year to cope with the holidays was that we bought all our family members Christmas ornaments with Emily's name and the year on them. That made me feel like she would be a part of people's Christmas.

My mother in law also went to a nursery and bought a whole bunch of pink rose bushes. We put big pink bows on them and gave them to people. I love going to people's houses and having them show me "Emily's Rose." These gifts gave us a positive focus and really helped us cope.


Can you see what I mean about inspired and comforted by all these ideas? Hope that something here has sparked an idea for you and your family as we move through the holiday season and into the New Year. As always, we here at KotaPress would love to hear from you about how this article helped or inspired you. Or if you think of your own ideas to add to this list, just email them to us. We're glad to offer more "coping ideas" in the next issue as we know how much bereaved families need tools at this time of year!

Be in touch at and thanks for your readership and contributions!

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