Tuesday, December 9, 2014

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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