Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Perspective on New Years

By Bethany Conkel

It was the end of 2012, time to turn the calendar page and welcome a new year. The world around me was fully energized to ring in the New Year, ready to embrace the future. A fresh start. The exciting unknown. Yet, I sat petrified. I dreaded turning the page and fought the idea of leaving 2012. Yes, it had been a crazy, whirlwind, roller-coaster of a year. The type of year I do not want to EVER repeat… but, leaving 2012 meant leaving HIM behind.

My sweet boy. My precious baby. His entire existence was in 2012. How could I ever leave?

We had learned we were pregnant at the end of January and in a flurry of excitement told all our parents and siblings that very day. February was a blur of exhaustion and nausea, yet joy and ignorant bliss. March brought a flood of tears and heartbreak when we learned that our baby was not meant to stay with us. Our world was rocked and we felt devastated. April and May we adjusted to the “new normal” and thought of ways to celebrate our little one. June and July were filled to the brim with memory making activities and outings. Sweet summer days full of loving on our baby. August was spent planning, some of it joyful and some of it horribly painful… After all, who wants to plan a funeral for a baby that you can still feel kicking inside you? Then it was September. Time to meet him. Time to finally hold our precious boy in our arms. Time to look into his sweet eyes and tell him how much we loved him. It was such an amazing day. Love overflowed from our hospital room and spilled out into our community touching family and friends both near and far. Then in a blink we said goodbye. Our hearts shattered as we let him go. The pain cut deep, and forever imprinted itself on our hearts. Oh, the amazing power of loving a child. October and November we readjusted once again, learning another “new normal”… a new normal without out our baby at home, yet loving him just the same. December we juggled various emotions and survived the holidays.

And then… before we knew it, the year was over.

It was time to move on. It was time to let go of 2012 and embrace 2013.

I did not want to move on or embrace it. Moving on felt like leaving him behind. How could I go into a new year without him? How could I welcome a year that would never know my sweet boy? Would anyone remember him? How would he be able to make a mark on 2013 if he were no longer around? My momma’s heart was overwhelmed and just the thought of starting a year without my sweet baby in it was petrifying. Just petrifying.

Then I realized, although the rest of the world was moving on to 2013 – leaving 2012 behind - I did not have to move ON; rather, I could move FORWARD into 2013 while still taking the best parts of 2012 with me. I could carry my son’s memory into the New Year and introduce the New Year to him. I did not have to let him be forgotten. I could continue to parent his memory and build his legacy. He could still have an impact even if he was not physically here. The choice was mine. The world may move on, but I did not have to let him be left behind.

And so, when the calendar page was finally turned to read 2013 we began a new journey. The journey of building our sons legacy and allowing the Lord continue to use him to touch others. I came to realize the story of who our son is, who he was, and what his legacy would became was planted in 2012. PLANTED, not ENDED.

As 2013 unfolded, I was mesmerized to see that tiny seed bloom. My fear of him being forgotten was proven wrong a hundred times over. Although his physical existence had been contained to just one year, the meaning of that existence was definitely not. His legacy grew and produced beautiful flowers that year. I think I can honestly say that he had more of an impact on this world in 2013 than he ever had during his time with us in 2012.

I can also say with a joyful heart that during 2014 his impact blossomed even further and his legacy has reached even further and we pray that it will be the same for 2015.

As each New Year approaches I am no longer petrified. Instead I greet the New Year, eager to introduce my son to it and watch his impact continue to grow, blossom, and have its sweet fragrance embed itself into that year. Time will always move on, but as a momma, I move forward, taking my son with me.

I would like to encourage you, as we face the New Year, regardless of where you are in your journey; find a way to bring your baby with you. Do not let the changing of the year discourage you. Do not let others tell you it is time to move on. Water the seed that was planted when your baby came to be. Care for your little one’s legacy and watch it bloom.

From Lost for Words, 2013
~ ~ ~

Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethanycarried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research.Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday.com and serves withSufficient Grace Ministries

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day Twelve Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Renee B, mama to Stephen, you've been chosen to win! Please send us a private message HERE within 24 hours to claim your ornament. 

~ ~ ~

Enter to win a Custom Personalize Ornament from Lisa Sissons!









If you win, you'll be able to work directly with Lisa to create a special ornament for your baby. Enter to win one custom Christmas ornament. Winner can include choice of name(s), as well as one shorter length phrase or date, and a simple image (see examples above). Further customization options can be discussed with Lisa upon winning.

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment here, or on the Facebook page, with your name, and the name(s)/ nickname(s) of your child(ren).
3. Let us know why you'd like to win!

The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced here and on the All That Love Can Do Facebook page on Saturday, December 13th. 

If you win, you'll have 24 hours to claim your prize


Be sure to check out Lisa's Post, on our blog today!

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Twelve

Welcome to Day Twelve of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.


~ ~ ~
Day Twelve, 
by Lisa Sissons


Christmas – just the thought of it brings up so many emotions, ranging from pure joy to absolute heartbreak. You’d think that with this being the third Christmas since Finley was born and died, it would get easier. The only parts of it that is easier now are that the feelings are familiar, expected and not entirely unwelcome.
In the first year after Finley died, I remember talking to people who were further along in this journey than I was at that time. They used to tell me that grief becomes easier over time, somehow easier to carry. They would say that the feelings that overwhelmed me and made it difficult for me to breathe would happen less and less. I had so much hope that what they were telling me was true, because it was all consuming and agonizing. But I also didn’t believe that there would ever be a day when I didn’t feel the pain to that extent, and I hated it when people implied that I would get over it.
The truth is, people were right. It’s not that the feelings are less though, I think that I’ve just become used to them being there. The ache and the hurt are so familiar now, I honestly don’t remember how it felt before. And in that same way, the feelings and bitterness surrounding the Christmas season are familiar. This year when I feel the sadness creeping in it doesn’t surprise me. It’s almost a comfort to know that I still feel this way; it is a result of the love I have for my son.
Like in previous years, I will find ways to include Finley in our family celebrations. He is as much a part of my life now as he would be if he were here. His story and my story are intertwined; I will always be his mother. Every year I will hang his stocking.

I will hang ornaments on the tree. 

And I will find some new way to devote some time and energy just for him. I let myself imagine a little of what life would be like if he were here this year, almost 3, a big boy.

My new Christmas craft this year has been making ornaments. I started with one that I made for Finley, and it has taken up quite a bit of my time.


I’ve been making them for friends, especially for friends whose babies have also died. I think it is such an important thing to be able to help other grieving families, even in a small way of remembering their babies when remembering my own.







This year my husband and I will be travelling back to the UK to spend Christmas with his family. That in itself has its challenges – my nephew was born less than a year after Finley, and I see so much of Finley in him. I see how my husband’s family interact with him, and my heart breaks knowing that Finley should be there too; that he should have been there first. My niece is also going to be born either shortly before we arrive for our visit, or while we are there. That induces such panic in me. Thinking about it makes my heart beat so fast, and my breath quicken. We will be celebrating an almost 2 year old boy and a newly born baby girl. I will see my nephew’s joy on Christmas and know that Finley will never be there to experience those things. I will see my tiny niece and cry at the sheer newness of her. The sweet baby cries and smell that I never had with my son.
Despite all of that, I will try to enjoy these children whom I love so much at Christmas. They will grow up knowing about their big cousin Finley, and for me that is the greatest gift I ever could receive. My sister in law sent me a photo the other day of the Christmas balloon that my nephew picked out to go on Finley’s cherry tree at his nana’s house. It was a gingerbread man balloon. 

And I cried. I cry knowing that Finley is so missed and loved by all of his family. Missed enough that he is remembered and honoured in tangible ways, missed enough that a new generation of people will learn about him and miss him too.
My dear son Finley lives on in those who love him. And somehow that makes Christmas a little easier to bear.
~ ~ ~

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.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day Eleven Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Elena, mama to Simone, you've been chosen as the winner! Please send us a private message HERE within 24 hours to claim your code!

~ ~ ~


Enter to win a Discount Code for your purchase at Epiphany Art Studio!



If you win, you'll receive a discount code for $5 off your purchase of $20 or more!

*Find all the items for sale at Beth Morey's Etsy Shop, EPIPHANY ART STUDIO.

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment here, or on the Facebook page, with your name, and the name(s)/ nickname(s) of your child(ren).
3. Let us know why you'd like to win!

The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced here and on the All That Love Can Do Facebook page on Friday, December 12th. 

If you win, you'll have 24 hours to claim your prize


Be sure to check out Beth's post and tutorial, on our blog today!

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Eleven

Welcome to Day Eleven of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.
~ ~ ~
Day Eleven, 
by Beth Morey

When my daughter, Eve, was stillborn, the holidays quickly became my least favorite time of the year.  And it wasn't just because she died just a week before Thanksgiving.  There's something about the holidays that makes us realize with extra clarity both the loveliest and the hardest things in our lives.

Every holiday celebration was, for me, excruciatingly highlighted by her non-presence.  For the first couple of years after her stillbirth, I could feel the holiday season coming in my body -- starting in the beginning of November, my muscles would be incessantly taut, my jaw clenched, my heart aching more than usual.  I did my best to breathe and get through it, exhausted by the turn of the new year.

I don't have much advice on how to survive the holidays as a grieving person, except that you do what you need to get through it.  Avoid parties, cards, people, and whatever else if you can't handle them.  Let yourself ache.  Invest in a massage or see a therapist for extra support.  Boil life down to the pure essentials.  Journal angry/sad/silly/lonely/dizzy.  Make art.  Sleep a lot.  Eat some chocolate, watch a lot of reality TV.  You have permission, no matter what anyone else may say.  Your allegiance is first to your own heart.

That said, I have enjoyed the small tradition I've set for myself of purchasing a new tree ornament every year for our Eve.  No matter how people do or do not remember her, I can look at the tree and see evidence of her life in ours, evidence of how her tiny existence changed mine forever.  And, in ways sometimes small and sometimes large, this helps.

Today I have a simple tutorial to guide you through creating your own memorial ornament.  It makes of use only a few supplies (I encourage you to use what you have around the house as much as possible) and is quite unintimidating for those newer to arts and crafts (said the artist who, paradoxically, is terrified of crafts).  Enjoy, and I'd love to see your ornament in the 12 Days of Christmas Facebook group if you try your hand at it!

Easy Memorial Holiday Ornament Tutorial




Supplies:
  • blank ornament (I used a ceramic star purchased at Michaels)
  • two colors of craft paint
  • adhesive (I used a glue stick and a decoupage glue)
  • scrap papers and old book pages
  • scissors
  • paintbrush
  • an old credit card or gift card (or a firm piece of cardboard in a pinch)
  • ribbon
  • glitter (optional)




Start with your ornament on a flat surface. 




Begin collaging scrap papers onto the ornament's surface.  Be sure to put adhesive on both the ornament and the backs of the papers for the best adhesion.




Be sure to firmly run an old credit or gift card over the papers as you glue them to the ornament to remove air bubbles.  You can also smooth the bubbles out with your fingers.  One you are finished collaging, allow the ornament to fully dry.




Apply your first layer of paint.  Pick two colors that complement each other and are meaningful to you.  Allow the paint to fully dry.


Apply your second color of paint.


While your second layer of paint is still wet, firmly press a piece of paper across the ornament's surface.




Carefully peel the paper back.  You've now easily created an interesting and textured multicolored effect, and you can use the "stamped" shape on the paper to make a gift tag (or something else entirely!) if you wish.  Allow the paint to dry fully.


Next, collage your baby's name onto the ornament.  I was able to find Eve's name intact in an old book, but you could cut out individual letters and glue them down, or print your child's name off the computer and adhere that.  Additionally, you could write your child's name with a gel pen or in paint if you wish.  At this point, I also painted the surface in decoupage glue and sprinkled glitter over it. Allow the ornament to dry fully before threading an lovely ribbon through the hole. 




And there you have it!  A handmade memorial ornament for your tree (or your home) that affirms the precious life of the one you are missing so deeply.




May your holidays be gentle and surprisingly sweet, and please be exceedingly kind to yourself.  You both need and deserve it.

~ ~ ~

Beth writes, paints, and dreams in Montana.  She is the author of The Light Between Us, a new adult romance, and the creative healing workbook Life After Eating Disorder, and is also the owner of Epiphany Art Studio.  Her words and art have appeared in various publications, such as Somerset Studio, to linger on hot coals, Still Standing Magazine, Wild Goslings, and Disney's Family Fun.  In addition to her quirky little family and their three naughty dogs, Beth is in love with luscious color, moon-gazing, and dancing wild.  She writes soul into flesh at her blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day Ten Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Mandy Lobert-Skinner, you've been selected to win! Please send us a private message HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize
! 

Enter to win a Custom Hand/footprint Candle by Bethany Conkel!


Example
If you win, you'll work directly with Bethany to create this gorgeous keepsake, using an image of your baby's hand or foot prints. If you do not have those images, you can use your favorite image relating to your baby. 

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment here, or on the Facebook page, with your name, and the name(s)/ nickname(s) of your child(ren).
3. Let us know why you'd like to win!

The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced here and on the All That Love Can Do Facebook page on Thursday, December 11th. 

If you win, you'll have 24 hours to claim your prize


Be sure to check out Bethany's Post and Tutorial, on our blog today!

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten - Hand/Footprint Craft

by Bethany Conkel

*You can find Bethany's 12 Days of Christmas post HERE

I have two special crafts that I would love to share with you today. The first one is for families who are currently carrying to term after a fatal diagnosis. The next is for families who have already said goodbye to their sweet babies and still want to create something special.

For families who are currently carrying to term here is a wonderful activity that you can do in the hospital the day your baby is born to make sure you can incorporate your sweet one in all future Christmas seasons. It does not matter what month you are going to deliver, you can still do this activity. Many times craft stores will carry the supplies year round. We made this ornament when my baby was born in September so we would be ready for that Christmas!

Create this ornament using StazOn Ink Pad (click here for product description)

StazOn is designed for slick surfaces like glass, metal, plastic, leather, or paper; it is not intended for fabric.


Supply list:
* Your color choice of StazOn Ink Pad, which can be purchased at Michaels, JoAnn fabrics, or Amazon.
* StazOn Ink Remover, which can be purchased at some Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, or Amazon.
* Glass, ceramic, metal ornament of your choice. We recommend an ornament that has a flat surface to make it easy to capture hand/footprints. We purchased ours at Michaels.

Directions:
When it is time to capture your baby’s print, press hand or foot firmly on the ink pad until the hand or foot is evenly and thoroughly covered with ink. Before ink has time to dry, quickly make print by pressing hand or foot firmly onto your ornament (or other item). Make sure to press each finger or toe individually to be sure the ink transfers thoroughly and completely. Next, gently lift hand/foot away from the ornament to make sure it does not smear. Your ornament should dry within minutes. Re-ink between each print if you are making multiple ornaments. When you are finished making all your ornaments, use the StazOn ink remover to clean hand or foot. Using just soap and water will not work due to the type of ink. The ink remover will be needed to fully clean the ink off your baby’s skin. Using disposable chucks or baby wipes can help this process.

Enjoy your child’s treasured print!

This next craft is for those who have already said good-bye to their baby.

Supply List:
* Candle
* Tissue paper
* Wax paper
* Tape
* Hair dryer or heat gun
* Image you would like to use. We suggest using a scanned copy of your baby’s hand or foot prints, or an ultrasound, or favorite picture.
* Printer

Directions:
Find a copy of your baby’s footprints (or your preferred image). Scan the image. If you would like and are able, you can clean them up in a photo editing program like photo shop, but this is not necessary.
Cut a piece of Tissue Paper a little smaller than a regular piece of printer paper.
Tape the tissue paper to the printer paper. If your tissue paper has a shiny side and a dull side, be sure to tape it so you are printing on the dull side.
Put your prepared paper in your printer so that it will print on the tissue paper and print your image.
Carefully cut out your image. You will want to cut very close to your image so you do not have much border left.
Place the tissue paper image on your candle.
Wrap your candle with wax paper and hold it firmly around the candle. Make sure you do not let the tissue paper slide around on your candle.
Use a hair dryer on high to heat the wax paper. You might want to use an oven mitt if it gets too hot for your hands.
You will see the wax paper start to melt some, keep using the hair dryer until this happens to each section of your image.
Once the wax paper over your entire image looks like it has melted / heated up, carefully remove the wax paper.
You are finished. Enjoy your special candle in memory of your baby!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Ten

Welcome to Day Ten of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 

If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE

We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.



~ ~ ~
Day Ten, 
by Bethany Conkel


Unlike most people, Christmas has never been my favorite time of year. I’m not sure why. I’m always happy when Christmas is over and things go back to “normal”. After I got a positive pregnancy test in early 2012, I remember actually getting excited about Christmas for the first time since I was a girl. Somehow knowing that we would have a little one with us changed my perspective and I was actually excited for the holidays even though we were nowhere close to the Christmas season. I pictured myself and husband sitting with our 3month old in front of the fire opening gifts. It was going to be wonderful.

Then… everything changed. 

We learned that our sweet baby wasn’t going to stay. He would only be earth-side for a short time. That brief 80 minutes in September, although it was wonderful, sure didn’t include Christmas.

As the holidays approached that year, I began to dread them. My daydream of a happy Christmas morning with our little family sitting by the fire mocked me. I cried as I looked at the advertisements for little footie Christmas pajamas. I changed the channel when Christmas commercials came on. I refused to decorate. I only went to family gatherings out of obligation, and I remember quietly slipping away more than once to be alone because I just couldn’t handle it.

So, how did I survive? 

Besides taking things one day at a time, I kept my expectations low, and made the choice to try and enjoy what I could and let myself cry when I could not. I also went out of my way that year to incorporate my sweet boy as much as possible. We hung a stocking for him at my in-laws’ house. We framed his hand and foot prints and gave them as gifts to a few family members. We gave each of his grandparents a special ornament that we made the day he was born. 
I shared a special Christmas cookie “with him” at his memorial stone in the garden. I also made special Christmas bundles for the organization that helped us with his organ donation.

To be honest, I can’t say I enjoyed that Christmas, but I can say I survived. I can also say the next Christmas was a little easier, and this Christmas is looking like it will be better than the last. Although I wasn’t able to hold my little one in my arms in front of a fire that year like I had hoped, I was able to hold him in my heart, which, if he can’t be in my arms, that is where I want him to be.

So, if you are like me and not really a Christmas-lover, I will encourage you by saying things will go back to “normal” (or at least your “new normal”) without the added stress of The Season. Christmas won’t last forever. Do what you can to incorporate the memory of your little one, find joy where you can, and when you can’t know that it is okay. Hold your little one close to your heart and know that you are not alone. 

~ ~ ~

Bethany Conkel lives in Ohio and is married to her wonderful husband, Eric. She is the mommy to two amazing children – one who is in heaven, the other here on earth. Bethany carried her precious son, Amalya Nathaniel (meaning: “work of the Lord”, “given by God”) to term after receiving the diagnosis of anencephaly when she was 11 weeks pregnant. Amalya lived for 1 hour and 20 minutes before taking hold of the Lord’s hand. After he passed, his liver, pancreas, and whole body were donated to scientific research.Bethany has since created a website about neonatal organ, tissue, and whole body donation called Purposeful Gift to help other families explore the option of donation. She is also a certified Birth and Bereavement Doula through Stillbirthday.com and serves withSufficient Grace Ministries

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day Nine Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Jessica Green, you've been chosen to win! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your prize.

If you didn't win, you can still order a custom piece HERE


~ ~ ~

Enter to win a Custom Word Collage from Franchesca Cox!





If you win, you'll be able to work with Franchesca to create a special college for your baby! You can include a quote, or up to 25 words/phrases. You'll receive a digital file, so you can print it up to 16x20, as many times as you wish.

Learn more at Fran's Etsy Shop, HERE

To Enter:
1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook
2. Comment here, or on the Facebook page, with your name, and the name(s)/ nickname(s) of your child(ren).
3. Let us know why you'd like to win!

The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced here and on the All That Love Can Do Facebook page on Wednesday, December 10th. 

If you win, you'll have 24 hours to claim your prize


Be sure to check out Fran's Post, on our blog today!

Good Luck!

12 Days of Christmas: Day Nine

Welcome to Day Nine of the All That Love Can Do 12 Days of Christmas! You can read all about this online event HERE. If you'd like to catch up on all the posts from this event, you can find them HERE

Facing the holidays without your baby, or when you know your baby's life is going to be short, is overwhelmingly hard. Please, above all else, be gentle with yourself. 


If you'd like to connect with other loss families facing the holidays without their children, you can join the private group on Facebook, HERE


We hope you find peace and healing in the days to come <3.


~ ~ ~
Day Nine: When Holidays Hurt
by Franchesca Cox

Five years without her. I don’t know how I got here, but I’m here. The grace of God. The
prayers of the people I couldn't bare to hold a conversation with for the longest time. Many late and sleepless nights. Tear ­stained journals. Broken bonds and new bonds born from fire and ice. Words, and words, and more words. Lots of forgiving myself. And eventually forgiving others.

While life feels strangely normal these days, I look back sometimes, and this shadow haunts me. That happened. That happened, to me. How did I ever survive? It still blows my mind. Not the me part, but the fact that burying one of my own children didn’t make my heart stop beating. The unnaturalness of it all still strangles me inside.

This time of year makes my heart ache a little more than usual. Over the years (and I now
suspect that this will continue... ) the way we have honored Jenna during Christmas time has evolved. In the beginning, I signed her name in our Christmas cards. I talked about her to anyone and everyone that would listen. I decorated her little tree.

Today some of that is the same, some has changed and we’ve added new traditions in ways that make it feel natural to include her and the whole family.

In addition to the things mentioned, we have done some of these, and some I’d still love to try.
  • Donate a parking pass to a family with a baby in the NICU (we have done this since our baby girl spent 13 days in the intensive care unit, and it was by far the most rewarding way to give back in her name)
  • Include a symbol in your Christmas cards that represent your child like a bird, butterfly, star, or even pretty stickers or a little stamp
  • Include your child in family photographs (jewelry, stuffed animals, visible tattoos just to name a few)
  • Run away. The first Christmas after she died we ditched every family engagement ­unapologetically ­ and spent Christmas out of town
  • Decorate a small tree just for your child
  • Make them an ornament, or buy one for them each year
  • Take part in an ornament exchange for loss moms/ dads
  • Ask friends/ family to take part in a “random act of kindness” the month of December,and ask them to write down what they did in your child’s memory on a piece of paper. Collect them and stuff them in a stocking. On Christmas morning read each one.
  • Donate books to a children’s hospital, maybe even the room where grieving parents are holding their babies for the last time. You might even be able to get some of your friends/ family in on this by donating books themselves.
  • Write your baby a letter. It will most likely involve lots of tears, but something about the written word, it evokes things that need to come out and often things you try to bury
Above all else, listen to your body, mind and heart. Don’t feel like you need to do XYZ to
honor your child. Remember that THIS is for you. All this, as much as it stings, is for you and your heart. If you feel that something here is taking you to a dark place, maybe take a step back. Rewind. Listen.

It’s okay to do absolutely nothing but take care of your own heart right now. It is no doubt in the most fragile state, as the world around you is screaming “Joy to the World” and words like “Merry”, “Bright” and “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Take heart, mama.
~ ~ ~


Franchesca Cox is a barefoot, hippie-at-heart, natural-living, yoga-loving mama. Just another artsy free spirit, wandering the path to peace and healing in south Texas. Founder of Still Standing Magazine in 2012. Keeper of words at wildfeathersvintage.com.

You can read about the loss of her daughter, Jenna, on Small Bird Studios.
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