Previa Alliance Podcast

Maintaining a Thankful Heart in Chaos and Grief

November 20, 2023 Previa Alliance Team Season 1 Episode 81
Previa Alliance Podcast
Maintaining a Thankful Heart in Chaos and Grief
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Along with the joy of Thanksgiving comes the stress of expectations and the memories of loved ones we've lost. So, how can we juggle the demands of the holiday season while bearing the weight of grief? Sarah and Whitney unpack this delicate topic, offering insights into maintaining your mental health while navigating holiday chaos.

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Speaker 1:

Hey guys, welcome back to the Preview Alliance podcast. This is Sarah and Whitney and we are in Thanksgiving and you know we're thankful, we're grateful, but we also have to say it's okay not to be okay. Yes, it's okay to be thankful and not okay.

Speaker 2:

Right. So thankfulness does not erase or negate feelings of grief, that she may have feelings of struggle if you're dealing with infertility. Just because it's the holiday season doesn't mean that those feelings or those traumas or those griefs are magically gone.

Speaker 1:

No, no, I mean just because there's a holiday, just because we're eating turkey, exactly.

Speaker 2:

Just because it's the mannerical season.

Speaker 1:

Does not mean anything that we're going through, just stops, exactly it actually gets harder.

Speaker 2:

Oh, 1000%. Especially I mean from personal experience grief gets harder with holidays. It does.

Speaker 1:

And maybe even it's that thing that you're going through, that you've kind of just been like, okay, if I can get through the holidays, then I'm okay. Then I'm okay, or I'm distracted by. You know, we're looking up our recipes, we're talking to family, where getting a spirit, but then it comes up. You're like, huh, so let's talk through a couple of scenarios. So to the new mom so she's sleep deprived, she's healing, she's adjusting. You've got new family dynamics and she's simply trying to keep her head above water.

Speaker 2:

Right, she's surviving right now.

Speaker 1:

So now we're expecting her to go into a very busy season. Yeah, like nothing has happened, like nothing's happened, like she's not impacted, but her whole world's just been flipped up and you know, again it goes back to like she's not sleeping and healing. And so if that new mom is listening, you're like I don't want to go to 15 events this season.

Speaker 2:

I don't want to do that Now. I'm not newly posted Exactly.

Speaker 1:

They don't right. Like you could take this time and say I'm so thankful that I have this baby and I'm going to do what I need to do right now for us and we'll catch you guys next year.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, or hot take, hot take.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Maybe family can go to her and bring her some things. Yes, see if she needs a nap or a shower, and then they're gone in an hour, hour and a half.

Speaker 1:

And don't ask her to host, and if you think you should host no. Okay, I'm going to tell you, don't put that on you.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

Let's not do that. Okay, make your life easy.

Speaker 2:

Let's take you yourself Pizza on Thanksgiving. If you need to have pizza, it's fine. I would say Chick-fil-A, but I know they're close. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Go to the pizza place. Go to pizza or Chinese.

Speaker 2:

They're always open.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, mom with small kids. Okay, so you're in these young years which I'm with you, with these slowly escaping a little bit, those toddler years You've almost made it with one. But we're still very much. We're in the trenches, exhausted. You're physically, you're making this magic. You're carrying the mental heavy load. You've put a lot of expectations on yourself. Yeah, yeah, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. If your kids are not going to not need things or break things or your kids don't realize what everybody else has exactly, so they don't feel that same pressure to do all the things that you're putting on yourself.

Speaker 2:

They, I'm assuming, don't have social media, so they don't have to see all of these things, right? So realize that your kids don't have that expectation of you. So take that expectation off of yourself.

Speaker 1:

Exactly the mom who's navigating loss. Now you guys know Whitney's been very open about her loss, losses that she experienced, and just kind of talk a little bit about how that was with holidays.

Speaker 2:

It was honestly a little surreal. Yeah, because my mom's dad died in October, so you immediately had Halloween right there. I want you to know a lot of people are like that's not a holiday, but it's one of those like, we actually really enjoyed that growing up, so it's like, okay, this is different. Yeah, but then in November, the week before Thanksgiving, my father-in-law passed away and so that was just a very surreal. Okay, because my mom's dad we always did Thanksgiving at his house- Right, right. So that was totally new to not go to his house. Well then I also had my father-in-law where we didn't get together with them. And then in December, like unexpectedly, my other grandfather died three days before Christmas. So come Christmas in New Year's it was like, oh, we're down, three people on three different sides of the family, yeah, this is weird. And so you almost expect that person to come through the door. Now, from a mom losing a child perspective, you don't expect them to walk through the door. You don't necessarily have like a personality trait or a behavior that they routinely had, but you expected to carry them in in their car seat. You expected to be able to have that family picture in front of the Christmas tree. You expected to be able to do a stocking for them A stocking still kind of kill me a little bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because I think I'm supposed to have two more than I do. Yeah, still, so that's removed. Yep, I think again, loss and grief, and grief can even be from trauma, yes, if not, a lot of people experience it right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, grief can come from divorce.

Speaker 1:

Divorce it could be. You know, now that we're parents, we're navigating relationships with our family and our friends and sometimes those relationships end because we're setting healthy boundaries for ourselves and our children, so that could be that loss.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely.

Speaker 1:

And then to the mom who wants to be a mom. Yeah, and it's not happening, been there.

Speaker 2:

That's really a hard place to be.

Speaker 1:

The holidays are really hard because everybody I do it, you know I'm guilty you post the cute family photos. If it's the turkey, you know, the baby's in a little turkey, something Exactly. The little turkey hat, or you know family members that we haven't seen forever.

Speaker 2:

They're questioning hey Whitney what are you having a baby? Or you see everybody else's little ones and you keep thinking I should have my baby here too, and it's just, it's like salt to the wound. You're already grieving and mourning and then seeing that is just another layer of that, and so it's one of those you may dread going to family functions and you didn't used to dread that. So in comes another aspect of grief, or maybe one of those. You go into that event excited and ready to see family. And then the reality of I don't have my baby with me, whether it be from infertility, miscarriage or child loss, and all of a sudden you leave there and you're like, well, that kind of deflated me. That wasn't what I hoped it would be.

Speaker 1:

I've been very open. I avoided holidays post miscarriage. I did, I didn't do it and it was good for my mental health and I don't think people understood, but that's okay. And then on the topic of mental health, the mom's struggling mentally. So if you are suffering from a maternal mental health condition post heart depression, pregnancy depression, anxiety, ocd, ptsd this doesn't magically make it go away.

Speaker 2:

If it did, I wouldn't have a job.

Speaker 1:

That's true. And Whitney, when are you? Very busy, holidays.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's weird because we have a big buildup to the holidays. Then I will say we kind of have a lull between Christmas and like the week after New Year's which I get it everybody's busy, everybody's going and doing and all those kinds of things, and then they all pile it up. Oh, yeah, I'd say mid January. You really see that uptick, come on, because they wanted everybody to talk about it. Oh yeah, everyone has to kind of process all the things from the holidays. I mean same for me because, again, I had already been seeing my therapist, knowing that my father-in-law, my grandfather, were in hospice care and I had remembered talking to her. We're going to say early December give her take a little bit after my father-in-law died and then when my other grandfather died, I was able to see her I think it was the week of New Year's, it wasn't the week of Christmas and she was like what has happened?

Speaker 1:

And.

Speaker 2:

I said you're not going to believe it. I have to tell you. So even as a therapist going to see my therapist, I can tell you there are things that we have to bring to the table to process, because we never know what's going to happen at the holidays, even if somebody doesn't say anything to us. That's hurtful.

Speaker 1:

There could be a trigger.

Speaker 2:

Like, let's just say you're Aunt Brenda and Aunt Brenda behaves herself.

Speaker 1:

She's okay, she's too busy eating.

Speaker 2:

Yes, she behaved herself. She behaved herself Good for her, she's velocity and, yes, she's taken some notes. So Aunt Brenda behaves herself and Brenda doesn't say anything to me. That upsets me or hurts me. Nobody says anything. There's not an event.

Speaker 1:

Okay, so it's a good family gathering.

Speaker 2:

It's a good family gathering.

Speaker 1:

No events no drama no, nothing.

Speaker 2:

but I still walk away thinking man, I'm really sad that I don't have my baby with me, man, I'm really sad that I'm on year five of infertility and they're telling me that nothing can be done.

Speaker 1:

I really miss my mom.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I miss my mom. Or let's just say, someone has gone through adoption process and it has been brick wall after brick wall and they just don't feel like they can even talk about it with family anymore, since it's too sensitive.

Speaker 1:

What's your kids in the hospital? What if it's a chronic medical child? What if it's NICU Right?

Speaker 2:

What if your baby was supposed to be born in January, but they came in October?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And so this is your Thanksgiving, this is your holidays, and people are like, oh, are you coming? And then you feel like I can't come because my baby's here. Am I wrong if I do this and wrong if I do that?

Speaker 2:

You don't feel like you can win.

Speaker 1:

Again, it goes back to whatever we're experiencing in life does not magically stop for a holiday. It doesn't.

Speaker 2:

So in this and the holidays, don't erase it, no they don't.

Speaker 1:

They often highlight it and what we constantly hear is I am grateful, but I'm also being met with toxic positivity. So let's break down this difference here, okay. So if I'm showing gratitude yes, that's authentic, right? Right?

Speaker 2:

Well, gratitude is something where we can say I am genuinely grateful for X, y and Z in my life Right. I'm very thankful for that. Toxic positivity is a way of gaslighting. It says oh, it'll get better as time goes on. Time heals all wounds.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

That being said, does grief somehow get slightly easier with time? It does cause we learn to adapt, but time does not heal all wounds.

Speaker 1:

No, it does not.

Speaker 2:

And so that's a toxic positivity. People just saying, oh, you'll be fine, just have a drink or just smile through it. Fake it till you, make it Things like that. No, just no, it doesn't work.

Speaker 1:

It just ignores reality. And reality is reality, right. A toxic positivity is not where I think. A good example is what I received when I had a miscarriage. Now here's examples of things that people literally said to me Everything happens for a reason. I hate that. Just keep thinking positive. My loss was worse, I had it at this, or if so, and so's loss was worse. You should be grateful you can get pregnant. That shows you can get pregnant. I wish I was kidding. At least it happened early. Smile, it will help. So those types of toxic positivity may be feel shameful to say I am hurt, I've devastated, I am lost, right. But you're making me think like you're forcing me to find this silver light and sometimes there's not a silver light.

Speaker 2:

Yes, sometimes there's not, and it's okay that we say that we're calling a spade a spade.

Speaker 1:

No one is ever going to be happy that they experienced a miscarriage or child loss or anything, or a divorce or a failed adoption, or my child's in the hospital, or I lost my job Exactly, or my husband's deployed during the holidays, right Like I don't need you to tell me to smile more.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and we're just relaxed. It'll get better. Oh my gosh, that was a big one when we were going through infertility was just relaxed. Don't stress out.

Speaker 1:

Don't think about it.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm sorry, how can I not think about?

Speaker 1:

it? How can I not think about it every month when I got my period? It reminded me literally that I was not pregnant.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I get it and I think sometimes we're toxic positive to ourself.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, we can self-guess, like for sure, because I think part of that is a defense mechanism. We're trying to pull ourselves out of it because our feelings are not enjoyable.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

They're not pleasant and we don't really want to sit with those emotions. And so we keep saying, okay, well, if I just distract myself or if I just don't think about it, it won't be so bad. Well, there's a time and a place for us to compartmentalize. Yeah, sure, absolutely. And I was compartmentalized when I was doing sessions with people after getting bad phone calls. Yes, because it's not appropriate for me to break down and sob in front of my clients. But at the same time I have to allow myself an opportunity to feel those things and to grieve those things and realize that it's normal for me to feel bad. And I swear if I had one more person tell me well, at least they're in a better place and they're not suffering. I thought I was going to throat punch them, yeah, which is not a not therapists not recommending, but felt that way, so just being honest.

Speaker 1:

It's just authentic, you're just being real, like you don't need to hear that.

Speaker 2:

Like. Yes, I'm well aware that my grandfather and father-in-law are no longer in hospice care and I can be thankful that they're not hurting, but at the same time, I still miss them so bad. Like. And also, how bad is it to have to lose that many people that close together?

Speaker 1:

Like we're allowed to say, man, I got dealt some bad cards then, man, this is hard Like you are okay, you can say it, say this is hard, say I am feeling X, that I wish this was different. I'm still mad that what I pictured this holiday to be Cause, if you are just always keeping that inside and I think it goes back to our inner child, where we were never allowed to express emotions- Say what we needed to say.

Speaker 2:

We need to shove it in.

Speaker 1:

We need to. You know the good girls, the good you know, who didn't make trouble. How's that working out for us now?

Speaker 2:

Us people pleasers, uh-huh, us people pleasers, inserving professions.

Speaker 1:

Uh-huh, just saying Hello Us. So that's what's so hard too, is generational traits. We're breaking, trying, we're trying and we're trying to allow our kids to feel emotions. We're teaching boundaries. We're talking about our mental health. Okay, you know, aunt Brenda never spoke about it, that's why she shaves us when we talk about it. You know, we go to therapy. We say we're okay, we're not. And again, the holidays, you're putting a bunch of family dynamics, you're putting a lots of emotions and it's okay to not be okay. And guess what? It will pass. It's a season, it is. We know that. You know Christmas at Hot, it Comes right ahead of us. Yep.

Speaker 2:

Well, can we also talk about, like the sensory overload and the schedule overload that comes to that season, on top of the difficulties and our kids are out of school, Our schedules are off.

Speaker 1:

We're eating more sugar, we're drinking probably more than we normally do and we're hearing. You know the music, the smells.

Speaker 2:

Everything.

Speaker 1:

The demands of the season. It's like you know, thanksgiving hits and I feel like every mom's eternal clock just goes off, and I feel like we're going to have to wait for the season to come, and we're going to have to wait for the season to come, and we're going to have to wait for the season to come, and you just run, and then we're sleep-deprived because we're having to do all the things. Yeah, so again, we want you to enjoy this holiday season, but if you need to step outside and go oh my gosh, that was hard, I'm upset you need a voice, turtle, you need to ground yourself, take a minute, you need to do a self-care day, maybe go to the rage room. Hey, we've been there. It works great.

Speaker 2:

Just saying rage rings.

Speaker 1:

And guess what, if you got trash, you can usually call them and say I've got like this old whatever Can I bring it to smash it? They'll let you really call ahead. They do hear Birmingham, they're great. I didn't know? I know from experience. But the moral story is, if the holidays are hard, you're not alone in it, correct? We're filling it with you. We will be sitting text to each other, back and forth going. You know what I'm over it. And it's day one and that's okay. So any other tips you can think of that you tell your clients for this season that we haven't covered.

Speaker 2:

Especially moms, like if you have to go run an errand and you're lucky enough to get to leave the kiddo's home with somebody it's, you can take an extra five minutes in the driveway to decompress.

Speaker 1:

You can sit that parking lot for a good five to ten minutes before you go to the store.

Speaker 2:

I think was really bad, I don't know take that moment.

Speaker 1:

If anybody says self-care is not sitting alone in your car without your kids in it, you can listen to us, you can listen to music, you can sit silence.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes we just sit silence. Well, do you remember? That time? I did send you a picture from my driveway and I was like I got back from the pharmacy and I don't know that I want to go inside again yet. That's okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, sometimes we need parking lot therapy yes, meditation recommended by our favorite therapist here. So, if you need that permission, moms do it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely again you're not alone.

Speaker 1:

We're here through you. For this season We've got some really good episodes coming up, and you know we're gonna do something a little different this year too. If you're gonna hear from some of our favorite guests coming back and just sharing you know they're experienced because there's you just again need to hear yeah, other moms are feeling what you're feeling.

Speaker 2:

You're not alone. Exactly.

Speaker 1:

Okay, guys, till next time, see ya. Maternal mental health is as important as physical health. The previous podcast was created for and by moms dealing with postpartum depression and all its variables, like anxiety, anger and even apathy. Hosted by CEO founder Sarah Parkers and licensed clinical social worker Whitney Gaye, each episode focus on specific issues relevant to pregnancy and postpartum. Join us and hear how other moms have overcome mental health challenges. As well as access tips and suggestions on dealing with your own challenges as moms, you can also browse our podcast library and listen to previous episodes at any time. Please know you're not alone on this journey. We're here to help.

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