I remember the first Christmas well. We were eight months into our grief journey; I was five months pregnant with the next baby. Looking back I am sure I resembled a rabbit caught in headlights. Having two living children too made me feel incredibly torn.
My heart was breaking in so many ways; I wasn’t sure how I was meant to be. Everything around me moved at speed, whilst I walked through at a snail’s pace. There were festivities everywhere, decorations, and the excitement of shopping. All I felt was guilt. I wanted to keep it as normal as possible for my children, but I was hurting and missing our daughter; celebrating a family event seemed overwhelming when there was this tiny human missing. I felt so numb.
The children had already had their hearts broken by the loss of their baby sister; I wasn’t going to rip the Christmas magic from them. From that year we decided we would make the festive season EXTRA special; I would throw myself into a lot of new traditions and activities for them. The first Christmas became our first Christmas as a new family, a family where we had things in our home in memory of; a visit to a graveside, to make us feel near to Melody.
Here are a few things I personally found helpful over the Christmas period, from that year onwards.
- Christmas Cards. You may be thinking it is only a piece of card with some season’s greetings, but it isn’t. They can be a heavy weight, especially in the very early days. But can often make the time lighter when their name is included, a thought to them or something which shows they have been remembered. Also at the same time to accept cards which have “M” or an extra kiss with kindness. It doesn’t make us strange; it just hurts to not include them.
- Light a candle. Christmas Eve when everyone is beginning to slow down, children going to bed; light a candle and have a thought, maybe post a picture to let your friend or family member know.
- Never be afraid to ask how the parents are at Christmas, Christmas can be the most difficult time of the year. When I say ask; ask with the intention to listen. Be kind.
- I’m not saying to buy toys or “proper” gifts. But little things. We have a friend –Melody’s godfather; he buys a candle for her every year (He is my other children’s godfather too), his thoughts are that he can’t buy them without remembering her too. We have a lovely collection of Christmas tree decorations, with her name or themed around her.
- Most importantly be there. I have already mentioned asking, but even if you don’t and the parents want to talk, don’t change the subject or look awkward, let us know that you DO remember our baby.
If I cry it doesn’t mean you have hurt me, or that you have reminded me of her. Because I won’t forget, but just occasionally it hurts my heart enough to tear up.
But that’s okay.
Do whatever YOU as a family need to do to get through the holiday period; because we all know how different these days should have been.
Merry Christmas my little girl.