‘Tis the season to be taking pictures, sending out cards, trying to figure out how the heck to sign them and receiving so many cards in the mail.
And all over social media.
What seems like an innocent tradition can feel like a minefield when you don’t have everyone in your pictures.
But don’t worry, I’ve got everything you need to deal with taking family pictures and handling other people’s.
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Welcome to smooth stones, a podcast for moms raising children on earth while remembering their babies in heaven. Come on in and let’s chat. I’m Amy wan. And I’m so glad you’re here. Hey everybody. How are you doing out there? I am excited to talk to you, and this is a topic that I think really fits right now.
So I’m excited to jump into it, but first I gotta tell you, I am doing consult calls right now. For anybody who wants to work with me in 2022? Yes, it is coming up soon. And I know it’s crazy right now and I don’t want to put one more thing on your list. So if you want to work with me in 2022, this is the time.
We’ll just spend half an hour together and talk about coaching and how I can help you. And I can answer all of your questions and we are going to get you all set up so that in the new year, you are going to be able to find the joy that maybe has been hard to find for you. I would love to be your coach.
Go in the show notes or go to smooth stones, coaching.com and you will be able to sign up for a concert call. It’s really easy. You just schedule it, pick a time that works for you. And I cannot wait to meet. You ask for this for Christmas. This is what you need. You need mental health. You need to take care of you.
It is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your family. I promise you, you will not regret choosing coaching and choosing yourself
okay, let’s talk about family pictures. Now I wanted to talk about this right now because it is that time of year where we’re getting a lot of cards in the mail. We are taking pictures. We are, we’re doing all the things. So family pictures can be a touchy subject. For anybody who has lost a child or who is missing someone in their picture.
And so I want to help you today. So that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to give you some practical tips, like some ways to include your baby. As you take pictures, we’re going to talk about how to think about your pictures and plan for it so that it can be. The best experience possible, even when you’re missing your baby.
And then we’re going to talk about what to do when those things come in the mail, or you’re seeing them all over social media and it really struggling with, family pictures. And this time of year is just it’s everywhere. So I think it’s the perfect time. All right. Let’s start with taking family pictures.
Now this could be, for any reason, I have a couple of tips of things that I do, things that I’ve seen. Other people do, things that work, and I think it’s really important if you want. That you represent your baby in your pictures. If you have jewelry, you can wear jewelry like a necklace or bracelet, something that reminds you of your baby.
And that can be a really subtle way to do it. And it’s something that. It’s there, but maybe it’s a little less obvious. Another thing you can do is Photoshop in you can Photoshop little shadows. You could Photoshop little like stars or anything you want really butterflies, whatever symbol you have for your child.
There are so many ways to edit your photos and add those in another great way to include your baby is to do drawings. There are so many artists out there who will do drawings of your family, and you can draw your baby. As a baby, you can draw your baby as how old they would be. A lot of these like simple line drawings that.
Are so they’re so gorgeous. And I think that they can be a really beautiful way to get a family picture that feels complete. When other family pictures aren’t complete for you. Then of course we can hold a picture of your baby. If you have one right now, some of you aren’t going to have pictures, but if you do have a picture, you can hold that picture in your picture.
Another thing you can do is hold a symbol. So we talked about Photoshopping and symbols, but you can also hold a symbol. Whatever that may be, or just put it behind you or like on my podcasts cover art. If you’ve seen it, it’s me holding two balloons, a pink one and a white one, and those represent my babies.
And so you could hold balloons, you could do a lot of things. Another thing you could do is wear the color that you associate with them. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. I know there are a lot of families who do have a color that they’ve picked out for their child. Just wear that color, or just have a little splash of it here or there.
And you’ll know that they’re with you in those pictures, you could also do a flowers. One time when our rainbow baby. Born and we had a baby blessing and we had a lot of family come in and we wanted to get a photographer and take pictures with everyone there because it’s rare that we’re all together.
And we decided to have roses. So a rose for Lauren and then a rose for my husband’s sister who passed away when she was 19. And that was really beautiful. It was a really nice way to represent them again. It was pretty subtle just holding. Two roses and a group, like a big group picture, but we knew they were there.
And I think that this is really important because it’s not what you do. It’s what you’re thinking. It’s how you’re feeling and what you’re bringing to the picture. And I think instead of dreading taking the pictures, when you think I’m going to include them, I’m going to find a way to include them.
You’re going to feel so much better because that’s what you’re focused on. You’re focused on how you can include them instead of that. They’re missing. And it gives you your brain, just a little something to work on and to figure out, and it can be fun to do and really special. Okay. I want to talk about if you don’t want to represent them in family pictures.
Sometimes we have like holiday pictures, but other times we just have group shots or we want to take a picture. We’re traveling, we’re doing whatever. And we aren’t able to include them or we forget, you do not need to feel guilty if you don’t want to try to represent them. Some people don’t like, it’s fine. If you just want to take a picture of your living family
that is perfectly fine and perfectly normal. You do not have to do something special or if it feels weird, if you’re like, I don’t really want to hold a picture of my stillborn baby, in front of a photographer with everybody, or I’m worried about what other people will say or think you don’t have to, and you don’t have to feel guilty.
Another thing with family pictures is. It can be really sad, especially when your grief is fresh and just everything around you is reminding you of how your baby is missing or your babies. And that might be the case for you. You might just feel really sad. That’s okay. It’s okay. If you hate it or you just don’t want to do it, or you’re like really begrudgingly doing these family pictures when all you want is for your baby to be.
That’s okay. Let yourself feel sad and understand that. It’s just part of the grieving process. It’s part of having a situation that reminds you extra, that your baby isn’t here and it’s okay. Something else I see with family pictures is. We project the future. Now I have talked about this in the past, but I want to talk about it again, because this is a time where projected into the future.
What is happening now can be really difficult. And it adds an extra layer that I don’t think you need to add. And what I mean by that is if it’s really hard for you to take family pictures, or it has been in the past, like you did it and it was awful and you don’t want to do it again.
Sometimes we project into the future that it will always be this hard to take family pictures. And what we do is we look into the future and we catastrophize. And so we’re saying. I’m never going to be able to take a family picture. I’m never going to be able to smile. I’m never going to not hate this, but that’s not true.
I can guarantee you except for, maybe a very few people, but most people it’s going to get easier and you’re going to figure out what works for you and you’re going to get stronger and you’re going to get more confident in your grief. Things are going to soften and you’re going to realize that it’s okay.
And it might be a twinge every time. Like every time you take a family picture, you’re just thinking, I wish there was one more person. I wish there was a few more people in this picture. That’s okay. But it’s not always going to be so like gut wrenchingly hard. It will get easier. So just focus on what’s happening.
If it’s really hard for you this year, just let it be hard this year. Don’t add the extra layer of thinking it’s going to be hard for ever.
And I wanted to just tell you a quick story . I did beach family pictures a couple of years ago, right before COVID we went to Disneyland and we were so excited
and I hadn’t taken family pictures for a while. So I thought let’s do pictures on the beach. That would be so fun. And we’ve never done it. So I got it all set up. I got the photographer. We had the time we like had it worked out with our Disney time and our outfits and everything was ordered. And I really had planned to add in a little symbol of our babies and I wanted to do this thing.
I had some ideas, I looked it up online and I like could not find what I wanted. And I thought I’ll get to the store, but we live in a small town away from the city. And. I never got to a store where I could actually get them and the day came and I didn’t have it. I just, I didn’t end up, I was packing and traveling everything else.
I just, I did not have those symbols that I had planned. And then as it went on, I really, I thought that maybe I could write their names in the sand in front of our family picture. I could draw little hearts in the sand or I could do something. And then it just everything went so fast. I didn’t include them at all.
And honestly, I was a little bit, it’s sad. Like I wished I would have, but also I just decided, you know what? I don’t need to be upset about this. I don’t need to feel guilty. I did the best I could. And that’s good enough. I, I got everyone there. One was mostly clean. Their hair was mostly cute. We, we had the outfits and the smiles and we were just hurrying to get pictures done before my children froze because it was.
I think January in LA and this fog had rolled in and Yeah, it was chilly. And so we got it done and I can look back and I love those pictures. And if you follow me on Instagram at Amy dot Smith zones coaching, you’ll see I’m going to post this picture of our family, but that I had meant to include our Lauren and river, but I just didn’t.
And that is okay. And so I want you to know it’s really okay. Like we all have the best intentions, if it doesn’t pull through it’s okay. Tiggy valley pitchers can be stressful, but I promise if you just relax and roll with it and let the kids be kids and let your husband be your husband. I know sometimes that can be the hardest part of family pictures.
But just let it be fun and let it be a moment to capture a memory and it doesn’t have to be heavier than that. So just have fun with it. Take care of yourself, take care of how you’re feeling. Don’t stress too much over everything being perfect. Just take the pictures. I really recommend that you take pictures of this as my little PSA for today.
If you’re scared, if you’re sad, if you’re dreading it, if you’re thinking it’s going to be horrible, because I’m just going to miss my baby, take the pictures. Anyways, we know that life is short. We know that our kids grow so fast and time just goes by. Just take the picture. If you need a push, this. If you haven’t got Christmas cards and you want to do, but you’re not sure.
Just do a new year’s card, do a Valentine’s day card, snap something and it, and just post it on social media. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, I think sometimes the goofy candid ones are just the best. They’re the best. So take the picture. Okay. Let’s talk about creating. Your holiday cards and letters.
I’m going to just touch on this really quickly, because I know this kind of goes right along with what we’re dealing with today. So think about what you want to say, something that seems so innocent, like signing your name on a holiday card becomes very difficult after your baby has died. You have to decide how do you.
To put your name. Do you want to put everyone in the family’s name? Do you want to put the living peoples names? Do you want to include your babies? What do you want to say? Anything when you’re grieving, this can feel like an overwhelming, really hard decision. So here is my tip. Just put the Watson family or, insert your name.
That kind of takes care of it. It’s like in my episode where I talked about how many kids do you have? I, sometimes I just say I have a bunch of kids. Sometimes I just don’t want to deal with it. And so I say a bunch instead of six living into angel babies. So that always works. You can always just say the Blake family, but if you want to put everyone’s name, you got to do it and don’t worry what everyone will think.
Ask yourself, how you want to include them in a way that feels right to you. There is no wrong way to do this and your baby won’t be upset with you. If you just mentioned the living people, it’s that? It’s just like answering that question of how many kids you have. You get to decide, you get to choose you just say it and you be confident in it and then know that you can do it differently.
Next year. You can always evolve this. It’s up to you. It really, I’m not gonna say it doesn’t matter, but it doesn’t matter. I know it matters a lot to you, but it’s not something I want you to spend a whole lot of time, really worrying and being upset about and like feeling stuck because you want to send out this card and you just don’t know how to say it.
For me, I do a Christmas letter and we talk about my, each one of my children and I actually add what we have done for Lauren and river and how old they would be in my Christmas letter. And I think that works well for us and it might change, but it’s worked so far. And I also have my kids write something last year.
That was great. And something that was hard. So instead of this highlight reel of our year, and everything’s cheery, it’s let’s do our little part to share our babies and share our challenges and normalize that life is hard. And there’s things that are hard to talk about. But if we talk about them, it’s going to get easier.
So anytime you are signing cards or anything where you need to put everyone’s name, this is going to come up, not just at the holidays, but if you have a plan, you’re not going to feel like completely knocked over by it or feel paralyzed every single time. It’s so important to just choose this ahead of time and go with it.
And then once you made the choice, you be confident. You don’t second. Guess it. If you clicked print and you sent that thing to the printer, and then you’re like, oh my gosh, I should have done this. No, you shouldn’t have it’s perfect. It’s perfect. The way it is, take a breath. Let it go. If you want to do it differently, do it next.
Okay. Don’t spend a lot of your emotional energy wishing you would have signed your holiday card differently, right? It’s just not a good use of your energy. Now, one last thing I wanted to touch on because I saw, so I saw this being talked about, but a lot of people might feel bad smiling because your baby isn’t there.
That can be hard and family pictures. And I want to just say, yeah, at first it’s going to be hard and it’s going to feel forced. It might feel fake, but you still get to decide, you get to decide what you do. I have a friend who loves to do like old timey, non smiling family pictures. And she is one of my favorites.
She does the best Christmas cards, but you can do that. You can do like a serious pitcher if you want, but I want you to know that you being happy or you smiling can’t make you feel anything. It’s. What you’re doing. It’s what’s, you’re making it mean that will create an emotion for you. It’s what you are thinking about you smiling when your baby isn’t there.
So I want you to take a little bit of time before you do pictures and let your. Write down. What’s hard. Think about it. Get curious about what’s really bothering you and know that it’s okay to think and feel whatever is coming up. No one is going to punish you. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just working through your grief.
It’s fine. If you have a whole pile of things right now that fit under the category of bittersweet, right? It’s it just is. And I think that word describes it. You want to do this cute family picture and it’s just a little bit sad because your baby isn’t there, but you don’t need to feel guilty.
The only time guilt is useful is if you knowingly did something wrong and you can use guilt as information, that guilt is there to say, Hey, you probably need to fix that. Or you probably shouldn’t have done that. All the other. Is things that we put on ourselves and it is not necessary. Okay. The last thing I want to talk about is receiving those cards in the mail.
And if you’re like me, like you’ve already got a stack going, here’s some things that might be difficult that you are thinking everyone is happier than I am. Everyone has what they want, except for me. You’re going to be super focused on babies and bellies and announcements. How do you deal with it? One way is don’t open them right now.
Wait for a time where you feel like you can handle it. There is no rule that says you can’t just put those in a little drawer and wait till you feel better, or you want to open them. You can open them and let yourself feel all your feelings. You can be angry, jealous, or sad, whatever you feel. Just let it all out.
You can open them and love all the people. Think about your connections in the good memories you have, think about all that has happened in the past year. Look, nobody is living a life that is a holiday card. Everyone has challenges. Everyone is missing things. No one has everything they want. I know it seems like it.
You just have to be on to your grief brain and no. We are all struggling. Everyone’s struggling. And they’re just not talking about it in their Christmas letter. They’re not talking about all the hard things, but they definitely have hard things. And so do whatever you need to do to handle receiving those cards and seeing those posts on the internet.
Just take care of. I really encourage you to create warmth for yourself. As you allow yourself to love these beautiful humans in your life. You can do this. You can take beautiful family pictures that you love and enjoy. Even if it’s bittersweet, you.
Can include your babies or not. You can share what has happened this year or not. You could open holiday cards or not. It is a hundred percent up to you. What I want you to be careful about. What’s your making these things mean and what extra layers of pain you’re putting on top of already grieving. Just deal with your grief.
Just deal with missing your baby. Just deal with trying to do everyone’s hair and getting everyone to the spot on time and hoping that the weather’s nice. Just deal with that. It’s enough. No guilt is necessary.
I want you to know that I wish you the most special holiday season. I know it can be hard, but I know you can handle it. I have no doubt about that. If you’re thinking that you’re not handling life very well. You need a life coach come and talk to me. I will help you with whatever you are struggling with and I’ll see you next time.