Tuesday, December 10, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten

Written by Lisa Sissons

Christmas is about children - you cannot escape that fact. For bereaved parents, the holiday season is an extremely difficult and constant reminder of the fact that life will never be the same. That they will never again get to plan for a Christmas celebration with all of their children present.

During the Christmas period two years ago, I was beginning my third trimester of pregnancy with our first child. My husband and I were living in Italy on a military posting and so our family and old friends were not there for the pregnancy. About a week before Christmas, we flew to Canada to spend it with my family. I was so excited for everybody to see my big, rounded belly and to feel our little man’s kicks.

We were already making plans for how the next Christmas would be. Finley was due in March, and we would have a 9 month old baby boy. Steve’s family would come and stay with us in Italy. It would be magical. I dreamed of the little Christmas outfits I would buy, baby’s first Christmas ornaments (like my mom had bought for both my brother and I – we used to love hanging our own ornaments on the tree when we were still children), and how exciting it would be to finally share a Christmas with my own child.

Finley was born about a week and a half before his due date. After a difficult, but seemingly normal labour, he was born not crying. Nobody could have predicted how Finley’s life would end after only three short days. How he would never make it home to the life we had so carefully planned and dreamt of. Or how difficult the coming year would be.

Among the difficult events to endure were pregnancy and birth announcements, seeing the baby section in shops and knowing that after spending so much time there recently, I no longer had a need to, commercials about diapers and formula and other baby things, and the holidays. I dreaded the holidays so much that I was living in a tightly wound ball of anxiety.

The lead up to Christmas was so hard. I wanted for things to be normal. Christmas is a holiday I have always loved – the decorations, the music, the food, spending time with family and friends - and yet I could not get even a little bit excited. I would work myself up into sobbing fits just thinking about it, about how Christmas would never be the same magical holiday for me. I didn’t know how to deal with the grief, anger and despair I was feeling. So I turned my energy into something creative that I could do for my family.

While I was pregnant I had taught myself to knit. I wanted Finley to have adorable things that were handmade by his mama. And so I decided to create something out of that love, something tangible that I could do for my son for Christmas – I knitted family stockings.




I’m not sure how I would have coped if I couldn’t focus my energy on Finley. The fact that he would not be spending his life here with us literally has felt like the end of the world, and I wanted to acknowledge his life and to have others do the same. I proudly hung our stockings, with his in the middle, on our mantle to show anybody who visited our home that Finley is still a very important part of our family.

I won’t lie – Christmas day was hard the first year. But the lead up to it was actually worse. My mother in law brought us a beautiful heart shaped ornament with Finley’s photo in the middle. It was a small gesture that felt huge in the moment. It let me know, with no words needed, that I wasn’t the only one missing our boy that day.

As Christmas this year approaches, things are not as raw as they were last year. But that’s not to say that it is easy. I can’t help imagining how much fun this Christmas would be with a nearly two year old boy who would understand something of what was happening – eyes wide with wonder at all of the colourful and shiny things.

The most important thing I’ve learned on this journey is to just feel how you feel in the moment. If surrounding yourself with people makes you feel better – do it. If you feel like you want to be alone with your significant other this Christmas – do it. If you need to sob at the dinner table – do it. You do not have to live up to anybody’s expectations of the holiday, as only you can know in your heart what is right for you. I definitely would recommend though, that whatever you do – take some time to do something special to acknowledge your child. Your love as a parent does not diminish over time, and that love deserves to be shared.

Be gentle on yourselves this season. I wish each of you a peaceful and love-filled Christmas.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lisa Sissons is just a normal girl trying to help her son's memory live on by writing honestly and openly about life, love and loss. She blogs at The Stars Apart about all things life and babyloss, and has also written articles for Still Standing Magazine and Circle of Moms. Lisa lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband Steve and their cheeky dog Jacob and tries to find the time for photography, crafts and blog design when her work schedule allows.


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