Messages of hope from the Tommy's community

What would you say to someone going through or struggling after baby loss over the festive period? We reached out to our amazing community for their advice, insight and messages of hope.

Take care of yourself

“Put yourself first. Those who really care will understand if you need to make your excuses.”

For some, it’s staying off social media for a couple of weeks. For others, it’s stepping back from Christmas altogether. Whatever that looks and feels like for you, prioritise protecting yourself – even if it means saying no to invitations from friends and family. “Do whatever you need to do to get through the day,’ said Laura. “Set yourself small goals, hour by hour or even less.”

While parties and gatherings may feel like too much, Christmas is a time for loved ones to come together and that can mean having your support network around you. “Talk,” said Leanne. “Talk to those around you who will want to listen. And talk about your baby. Your baby mattered.”

Find a way to include your baby

“The first Christmas after my second trimester loss, I asked for no presents and gave out Tommy’s donation envelopes and asked them to put money in them and wrap with a message. It meant what I got was a shower of love for our lost baby. It was so therapeutic, I didn’t want anything that year other than for my baby to be noticed.”

As our Tommy’s Midwife, Amina, said, grief comes in waves and stages but will be with you for your whole life. Your baby will always be important and loved, so many in our community find comfort in creating traditions that involve and honour their much-missed babies. Whether it’s buying a remembrance star for the Christmas tree, turning a scan photo into a decoration, lighting a candle or raising a glass, let them become a part of your day.

“I found putting their ultrasound photo in the tree a way of having them included in the festive period,” said Milly. “I felt like they weren’t missing out and that allows me to enjoy feeling Christmassy without ‘forgetting’ them.”

Be open with friends and family about your wishes and boundaries. If you’d like to see your little one’s name included in Christmas cards, mention to a close friend or family member and ask them to pass the message on.

Don’t put on a brave face – but do let yourself feel joy

“It’s OK to enjoy it! It’s OK to have fun… but it’s also OK to hide away and pretend it’s not happening. Give yourself permission to do what YOU need.”

Parents grieving the loss of their baby experience a lot of emotions, many of them conflicting or confusing: “Every single one of your feelings is valid – even the ugly ones.” Let yourself feel different emotions without judgement – it’s one of the kindest things you can do for yourself. As Ruth said, “You are allowed to be sad, angry, envious.”

This also includes those moments when you feel happy. When you’re grieving, it’s natural to feel a sense of guilt for moments of happiness and joy. “Joy and grief can coexist,” said Kayleigh. “You can still enjoy Christmas while grieving your loss.”

Know you’re not alone

“Heartbreak is a lonely place, please don’t do it alone!”

So many of the responses we received from our community were messages of solidarity. Grief is isolating, it is lonely – but you are not alone. “We see you!” said Holly. “I think that’s all I needed to hear after my losses.” If it seems like nobody around you understands how you’re feeling, please know there’s a whole community of bereaved parents who do. Places like our baby loss support group can be a way to connect if you’re feeling lost or alone, at any time of year.

And finally…

“If anyone tells you ‘everything happens for a reason’, ‘you just need to get back to normal’ or ‘you can try for another baby’, send them to the North Pole.”