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More Recommended Reading: The 12 days of holiday coping – Children with Disabilities

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Each week in December, we share with you resources to help deal with the stress the holidays may bring. This week we draw your attention to The 12 days of holiday coping – Children with Disabilities,  a blog post from the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association. Not only does this post realistically describe how our dreams for the holidays can vary greatly from reality, but it also touchingly taps into the more overarching sense of loss and grief we sometimes grapple through when we learn our child has a disability: “As we deal with the loss of our vision for this child and seek to replace it with a new vision, we often will cycle through the grief process. This may include feelings of shock, anger, depression and finally acceptance. Depending on where you are with this cycle, you may or may not experience added stress and sadness during the holidays.”

The blog gives practical and helpful tips for coping with the overarching losses we may feel, such as writing letters first to the child who didn’t arrive and then to the one who did. It also has tips for dealing with the holidays, especially situations that may arise with relatives. The authors encourage working with your immediate family to develop a plan for dealing with difficult relatives in advance. They also remind us it is OK to keep visits short and stay somewhere other than in the home of relatives. They encourage us to talk openly with relatives with whom we feel close about any sense of loss we may feel and to freely give tips to relatives about what gifts we know will work for our children.

Two of our favorite tips that we think work year-round are:

  1. Be willing to change your expectations during the holidays. Flexibility will take you far and you’ll feel more in control.
  2. Finally, be kind to yourself. It’s not a perfect world or life and this isn’t going to be a perfect holiday. Keep your original vision in mind, whether it’s to get closer to your family, enjoy old or new traditions or just get through the month.

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