Wednesday, December 3, 2014

12 Days of Christmas: Day Three

Welcome to Day Three 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. 

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Day Three, by Erin Bennett

I am a mom to Jack, Leah, and Will on this earth and to Hannah and Charlie in heaven. And while our losses are never an easy thing to deal with, it’s particularly challenging around the holidays.

Hannah Marie was stillborn on November 5, 2011. The timing of that loss alone was just mean. I remember approaching Thanksgiving that year and thinking, “What do I have to be thankful for? Nothing is as it should be!” And Christmas was a bit of a blur. I was still in shock, my husband was dealing with debilitating anxiety, and nothing felt right. I didn’t want to decorate my house. I didn’t want to shop for gifts. I just wanted to stay in bed and fast forward to the following summer.

As hard as that first Christmas was, I knew I needed to acknowledge Hannah in some way. I knew I’d regret NOT including her in our traditions. And I knew I needed to start some new ones in honor of our sweet girl. One of the first things that struck me was that I wanted to continue to shop for Christmas gifts “for” Hannah every year. I didn’t know right away how or where, but I wanted to donate gifts in honor of our daughter. As it turned out, we ended up with a perfect opportunity. Some dear friends had lost their 2-year-old son earlier in 2011, and they have continued to have a birthday party for him every December. At the party, they collect toys to donate to a local children’s hospital. We are able to shop for Hannah and Charlie (and Chase, the birthday boy) and donate those toys at the party.

Another way we have included both Hannah and Charlie in our home at Christmas time is in our decor. I really do love decorating for Christmas, and even though it was really hard that first year, I still did it. I had two other kids who were excited about everything and I wanted to keep it all as normal as possible for them. I bought some ornaments for Hannah (and later received some as gifts and made others) and they are such a beautiful addition to our tree. Our living children have ornaments with their names (and some with photos) and it’s only fitting that Hannah and Charlie do too. And Jack and Leah love rediscovering these ornaments every year when we decorate the tree. I also have two holiday sand butterfly drawings from Carly Marie that have Hannah and Charlie’s names on them. I love having those displayed around Christmas. We have their names in the sand on our family photo wall year-round, but I love seeing their names in new settings too.

Charlie was a second trimester miscarriage on June 10, 2012. He would have been due December 10, 2012, so it was yet another marred Christmas season. I was so glad to have established traditions from the year before that we could very easily include Charlie in. But after losing a second baby, I was struck with the reality that I had two children on earth and two in heaven. And regardless of what our future held as far as more children, it wouldn’t change the fact that Hannah and Charlie would always be a part of our family, albeit not physically. I wanted to acknowledge ALL of my children in some way, so I made a bird’s nest necklace that included the birthstones for all of them.

It was a very tangible way for me to hold all of these precious lives together. I loved my necklace so much that I made a lot of them as gifts that year for other babyloss moms. (Some of these friends have living children, but for those who don’t, I made a nest with their baby’s birthstone and the mom and dad’s birthstones). I think there’s something
really powerful in sharing each other’s experiences--both the joyful and the painful. These necklaces were a really amazing way to connect with these friends.

I think the best advice I can give in making it through Christmas after a loss is to do whatever you need to for you. Find ways to acknowledge your baby, but do what works the best for you--not everything someone else is doing. Have grace for yourself--if the decorations don’t get put up, that’s okay. If you skip a gathering or two, you’re more than excused. Your job right now is surviving and honoring your baby in any way that you can. 

Big hugs.

~ ~ ~
Erin Bennett is a stay-at-home mom who spends her free time crocheting, reading, and cooking. She lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota with her husband Dan and children Jackson, Leah, and Will. They hold babies Hannah and Charlie in their hearts. Erin blogs at Mourning Into Dancing and sells her crocheted creations at Bean Sprout Baby


Shauna said...

Your angel ornaments are so beautiful <3 and I love the necklace that represents all of your children. It is a delicate balance to try and keep things normal for your living children, but, yet start new traditions because things are so different after your baby dies. ((Hugs))

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