Holidays are a time for family, and often it is difficult when you are so missing your child. You are very aware that your baby should be with you. It should be his or her first christmas, he should be taking the ornaments off the tree, she should be getting his or her picture with Santa, they should be with YOU. Your family should be together and you have a glaring, gaping hole, yet it appears you are the only one to feel this way.
Feelings of sadness are also complicated by anger if other family members do not remember your child. You get together at Thanksgiving and they don't understand why you don't just 'get over it'. You continuously run into other pregnant family members or friends with new babies who are preparing for or celebrating their children. You feel guilty for 'bringing them down' yet how can you just go on as if it is business as usual?
I have heard from many, many moms who say they would just like to 'skip Christmas' altogether. You may wish to simplify your holidays. Ask for help when you need it. If you aren't up for entertaining or being in big groups just say you are sorry you 'can't make it' this year. Do as much or as little as you are able. As you know, once a child dies things will never be 'back to normal'. We have to make a new normal for ourselves- a life without our child. Why shouldn't this include our holiday celebrations as well? You may consider some of the following suggestions.
*Include your baby in holiday cards and pictures. Some suggestions I have heard include having a stuffed animals or special symbol in your holiday picture. Your living children may benefit from picking a teddy bear or other item to include in the picture. You may choose to wear a special piece of jewelery, some special flower corsage, have a lit candle in your photo. Sign your cards from 'Gabriel's Family' (substitue your baby's name!) or include a star stamp or baby footprints.
*Do something different on Christmas Eve or morning. Attend a mass or other religious service. One family I heard about said they pack a breakfast and all go to watch the sunrise. One family who normally spends the holiday at home will intead go to the beach or out of town.
*Buy an ornament to remember your baby. You may want to purchase a special tree topper in honor of your child. You could decorate a small tree all in angels. It may be appropriate to buy or make an ornament to give grandparents or other family members in rememberance of your baby.
*Candles can remember your child with you. Lit candles are beautiful ways to remember. You may want to purchase and give candles to friends and family members to include them as well.
*Do an act of kindness or give a donation in memory of your baby. Choose a child off the angel tree the age your baby would be. Make a donation to Toys For Tots. If it pleases you to buy and wrap the presents you may put them under your tree at home and donate them after Christmas. If shopping is too difficult you may consider shopping online or making donations instead of purchasing presents. Make a donation to the NICU unit of the hospital or to a cause that is particularly dear to you.
*Hang a stocking with your baby's name. I heard this idea and love it- the family hangs their baby's stocking and family members put little slips of paper with scriptures, quotes, kind wishes, or acts of kindness written on them. They open the stocking on Christmas day and read these aloud. This would be a nice page to your baby's scrapbook to record the ways your family has remembered your child during December.
I wish you peace and comfort as you celebrate the holiday season.
with love, Emily