Monday, December 1, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day One

Welcome to Day One 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 the posts from last year's 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 One: Gianna's First Christmas
It's hard to know where to start, but Christmas was everything to me and my husband. He would beg me to start decorating in November and we would start Christmas shopping in August! My mom and I would plan the Christmas Eve food weeks in advance and he would plan the games/festivities. Presents would be stacked to the ceiling and every year my husband managed to find an even larger tree than the last.
But last year, everything changed. Last year, the day before Christmas Eve, we received the devastating news that our precious daughter's life was going to be cut short. We had plans to have a gender reveal on Christmas Eve by opening a box with a boy or girl ornament inside. Obviously, plans changed. We were in complete shambles from that day through Christmas and New Years (and beyond, but that initial shock was absolutely crippling for us). Through all the pain, that night we decided to open gifts, hoping for a distraction, but still talking to our Gianna through the whole thing because she was still here and we knew that would probably be her only Christmas on Earth. The rest of the time was spent in bed. My husband had blown fuses in our new house from all of the crazy lights he put up and even though they shined so brightly with our new pregnant glow during the first half of December, they did not light after our Gianna's diagnosis. We had the darkest home on the block on Christmas Eve.
I remember feeling a little angry that people were still celebrating Christmas. Didn't they know what happened?! Didn't they know my first, long-awaited daughter was going to die?? I felt as though the world should have stopped. But it didn't. And that's the thing about extreme loss and grief, the world around you keeps spinning. What a horrible feeling that is.
So this year, we've accepted that Christmas will never be the same. In fact, we've not only accepted it, but have tried to embrace the new traditions we've decided to create. And yes, it is still our sweet girl's very first heavenly Christmas. We realized that even if our prayers were answered (in the way WE wanted them answered) and G was still here, things would have still changed. New families create new traditions, their very own traditions, and she is still so very much here and present in our family's home. So we plan to still decorate (as best we can). We decorated a special white 'angel tree' just for her. 

We plan to buy her gifts (memorial items for us) and find meaningful gifts for each other from our little guardian angel. We will buy a special few gifts for a child her age (9 months) to donate to charity. We want to make crafts yearly for Gianna to have as keepsakes from each passing year without our angel (I am so eager to try some of the crafts the beautiful mama's on this blog have created!). These are just plans and we understand that things will not go perfectly, but we will allow for authentic feelings, that means including the immense pain and grief that come along with the first (and every) holiday season without our loved child.
Yes, the Christmas morning cries will be absent, and the little pitter patter of crawling hands and knees will be non-existent; which will not be easy in any sense of the word. The silence will be deafening. She will never physically open a gift or sit on Santa's lap. But we can enjoy her sweet sweet memory, create new family traditions, and include her as much as we can without her physically being with us. Everything about Christmas for us has changed, but we will remember the true meaning of Christmas while loving our angel in heaven alongside our loved ones here on earth.
Steve (my husband) was also inspired to give advice from a fathers point of view: I'm not fully sure how we will cope this holiday season. The same goes for any other moments in time. In many cases situations sneak up on you and sting you emotionally and unexpectedly. In any event, when these moments in time occur, even the saddest of times, in a strange way it has become a comfort. A comfort because I know our baby is still a huge part and will always be a huge part of my life, our life and that is what every parent wants: to have their sweet angel forever remembered.
We have acquired individual ornaments for our baby's angel Christmas tree and invite our loved ones to do the same who are always excited to be part of her history in any way as well. We've also decided each year to buy a present for child in need based on what our babies age would have been. An amazing idea by my wife.
My advice is this: Don't search for a specific cure. You will not find one. Don't search for answers to ease your pain. Instead, search for those things you can do to honor and commemorate your angel and you will in turn find comfort. Feel their presence when there is complete silence. Know they are with you celebrating as you celebrate your baby's short but infinitely meaningful and impactful lives.
If you are facing your first Christmas without your baby, my husband and my hearts are with you while we all face this together. We can make it through knowing our beloved babies are truly with us during it all.
~ ~ ~
Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, her first child. She carried Gianna after receiving a fatal diagnosis halfway into her pregnancy. Through the love and spirit of their special daughter, who means the world to them, they wish to help support other families who have to say goodbye to a piece of their heart.


Shauna said...

Gianna's angel Christmas Tree is so beautiful and I love all the special ornaments you have on it. <3 Gianna <3

Julie said...

Thank you. Those are great ideas. I hope you are soon blessed with your 2nd child

Laura Evarts said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. Take care of yourself through this season

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