8 Ways to Survive the First Thanksgiving After Placement

1) Make a plan. If you live with family, plan to spend the day with them. If you live on your own, either make plans with your family or with friends close by. Have a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving can be one of the loneliest holidays even without the accompanying grief, so plan ahead to be with people.

2) Write a letter or email to your birth child and his/her family. Tell them about your holiday plans, and ask about theirs. It is a great opportunity to share traditions with each other and bond.

3) Take advantage of baby snuggles. There is usually somebody attending who has a small child or baby. For me, it was my sister. Loving on my new nephew helped ease my aching heart, and playing with my older nieces and nephews took my mind off my empty arms.

4) Get active! Go play Thanksgiving football. The first Thanksgiving after my placement, I woke up feeling pretty empty. A friend invited me to go play flag football with some young adults in our area, so I went with very little expectation. I ended up meeting some great friends, and being active improved my mood significantly.

5) Make a gratitude list. It sounds like something a therapist would suggest, but when you write things down it is therapeutic. Write down everything you consider a blessing, from your socks to your birth child. Once you start making your list, it will be hard to stop seeing so many blessings around you.

6) Take a little time to grieve. If it becomes too much, especially if you have placed within the past few months, you may need to take a timeout and be alone for a minute. That is okay! Find a quiet place to meditate, pray, or refocus. Let yourself grieve the “what if” thoughts that you will feel, just don’t stay there. Feel it, accept it, then move yourself forward.

7) Get involved in the festivities. Offer to bake a pie, learn to do the turkey, or whip up a cranberry salsa. Having a project and contributing to the festive atmosphere is a great way to feel like you are part of the day, not just an observer.

8) Serve. Find someone else who may be grieving, feeling lonely, or is missing somebody and do something kind for them. Serving others is the best way to boost your own spirit. We are nurturing creatures, especially as new parents, and it will definitely get you in the holiday spirit to make someone else’s holiday happy.

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