Saturday, December 5, 2015

12 DOC:Day Five: Larissa Genat

*This post is part of our Twelve Days of Christmas series. You can read more here.*

by Larissa Genat

Christmas. It's not what it used to be. I remember looking forward to big family gatherings, excited to see so many family members in one place and spend a day together. It would usually be a barbecue lunch and dinner outside, because an Aussie Christmas is lovely and warm. The same thing every year and it was wonderful. Christmas 2012 was particularly wonderful and full of hope: I was 8 months pregnant and knew that the following Christmas would be the best one ever. I couldn't wait to be chasing a crawling 11 month old around my grandparents yard and watching them enjoy gifts from our family. I had no idea what how Christmas would change...

Fast forward to Christmas 2013: instead of chasing an 11 month old, I was once again 8 months pregnant. My daughter was born still and I was now pregnant with her brother. To say her death changed Christmas for me would be an understatement. The idea of going to the family gathering was much too overwhelming, how could I face the festivities when my baby girl was missing? I didn't think I could do it. There's lots of advice that bereaved parents give to each other and one of the best things I was told related to this very issue. A friend told me to "expect nothing" of myself at Christmas and to tell family the same. I didn't know if I could face a family gathering but I also didn't know that I couldn't. Maybe I would feel like going! There was no way of knowing what I would be emotionally up for on the day. So by expecting nothing, I couldn't feel guilty for letting myself or others down!

As it turns out, there was no way I was emotionally able to see people that day. And so we began a new tradition: lunch on the beach with just us, and if we feel able, joining the extended family for dinner. This allows us time alone to acknowledge our precious Ariella, which might otherwise be difficult on an often busy day. It also means that we have the whole day to decide whether we are ok to see people or not. We did the same thing for our second Christmas without her and will likely be doing the same this year. 
Ariella's Tree
I don't have a craft tutorial to share with you (anyone who knows me in person would laugh at the thought, as I'm not exactly a craft person!) but I did want to share this with you: it is more than ok to tell your family and friends that they shouldn't expect anything from you at Christmas time. If space is what you need - start a new tradition that creates space in your day for your baby. If people is what you need - be with people who acknowledge your little ones. And if you don't know what you need, that is so very ok too. Be gentle with yourself this Christmas.
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Larissa Genat is happily married to Marcus, and has been since December 2011. In May 2012, she was thrilled to discover that she was pregnant with their first child. After a smooth, complication free pregnancy, her baby girl’s heart stopped beating at 39 weeks. Two days later, on January 30, 2013, Ariella Jade was born. No reason was ever found for her stillbirth. Unsure of what to do with herself, Larissa turned to writing as a way of processing her grief and keeping people updated on how her and her husband were going. As time went on, she became more and more passionate about sharing with people about baby loss, giving suggestions about how to help grieving parents, and wrestling with how the concepts of faith and loss can possibly work together.
Find Larissa here: blog / facebook


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