Don’t let your paternal instincts go to waste at Christmas

Christmas again. For anyone who has lost a baby this can be a difficult time of year.

It’s a time when it’s all too easy to measure your life against those of others, and against your own expectations.

Why don’t I get to be the fun, expansive Dad at Christmas time? Where are my excited children? And who am I in all this; what role do I play?

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that Christmas is no different from any other day for many of us. We feel the absence all year round, the sense of loss and of being slightly out of step with our self-image.

It’s like a phantom alternative life that stalks our every move. And it’s not the sort of thing that takes a day off.

But we can take strength from this. Christmas is one day of 365 that will begin and end, just like all the others. Yes, there will be triggers, but they, too, are ever-present.

A hot summer day in the middle of the school holidays. The first match of the football season. The sight of a child’s first wobbling progress on a new bike. All inspire the same feeling in me.

Do what a Dad does for people

The question of who we are at Christmas is maybe a more difficult one to answer. One of the things about Christmas is it’s not easy to avoid so it helps if we can find a way to survive it on our own terms.

I’m going to talk about paternal instinct, because that’s what I know, but this probably applies to would-be Mums too.

You might not be a Dad but the paternal instinct is a strong one. So don’t let it go to waste. Put that love and energy into those around you, make their Christmases that little bit better.

Be there. Be present. Do what a Dad does for people. It doesn’t have to be directed to those younger than you, or restricted to your own family and friends. It works for anyone.  

At Christmas time, you can turn away and keep yourself to yourself and no one would blame you.

But if you want to, there is a way to get through it, and a valuable role you can play while honouring the memory of the children you’ve lost.  

Merry Christmas.

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