Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Angel Connections

My family went to get photos done for the holidays and we brought our 'Gianna bear' (our little girl's teddy bear urn) to be a part of the pictures. As we were waiting for our photographer friend to finish up with her session, we saw an adorable family walk up. A husband and wife who was beautifully pregnant, and an absolutely precious toddler. As they came closer I noticed something; they were holding two bears.
Could it be?
There's a part of me that hoped not as that would mean they've also survived the impossible. It would mean that they too have a piece of their family in heaven that they miss every moment of every day. It means they would know, they would understand.
'Is that a Molly bear??' she asked me immediately upon walking up. She knew.
So without thought I said 'yes!' (Even though our Gianna bear is an urn and not a Molly bear, I had that understanding of what she meant. Our community is very aware of Molly bears and if you're not familiar, these special bears are made by a bereaved mother to weigh the same as a loss parent's angel). She then proceeded to explain that they had lost twins about a year ago. Two perfect dreams shattered, but never forgotten and always loved. What a chance meeting. I absolutely believe that our angel babies bring us together. I believe that our little miracles coordinate meetings between grieving parents so we can help each other through grief's ever-changing tide. Their little hearts connect us through loss and love like some sort of divine intervention. Maybe our baby's met in the afterlife and decided their parents could help each other somewhere down the line. Maybe. It's a nice thought.
It's amazing how many friends I've met down this broken road. The beautiful souls I've come across did not deserve this, none of us did, but we have each other. Fellow allies on our lifelong journey that will pick us up when we can't see through the fog. We have a special connection, an instant 'bond' of sorts. Because even though each of our loss roads are very different, we all walk in the same direction-toward someday holding our children again.
Our little miracles can give us so much empathy and compassion. Our hearts are opened up with love pouring out for fellow bereaved parents. I've witnessed it. I've experienced it. My fellow loss sisters have provided me the privilege of receiving their kindness when I needed it most. They've donated love from their own mourning that maybe they didn't even feel they had left. This holiday season, try opening your heart to let the love for your child pour out. Let that love flood into everything you do and everyone you meet. Take their breath away with your compassion and kindness.
And if you're not there yet, that's ok. The love of your child pours out even through grief and mourning. Grief can only be cultivated from love and the deep longing we feel for our children is a result of loving with all of ourselves. That love can be meant just for you this year if that's all you can muster. Because self-love is above all else the most important commodity you can gift yourself with this year. You deserve it. Don't be afraid to reach out if you need it though. We all need lifting up at times no matter how fresh or far into this journey you are. Our connections are so incredibly sacred. They are so necessary. They are so cherished. And those connections are made completely out of love <3.
~ ~ ~

Christine Russo is a wife to an amazing, supportive husband, and a mommy to Angel Gianna Marie, and her little brother, Romeo. 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.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The 2015 Twelve Days of Christmas

The 2015 Twelve Days of Christmas have come to an end. We hope you've found comfort from reading the stories of other families, reassurance in knowing you're not alone, tips for facing this holiday season, and ideas for honoring your child.

Most of all, we hope you know that what you do this year is completely up to you. No one but you gets to decide what's the "right" way to have Christmas/the holidays. Follow your heart and do what you need. 

Our heartfelt thanks to the writers for sharing,
 and to the organizations who helped provide
special things for our giveaways.

In case you missed any of the 12 Days, here is the entire collection in one place

Day One: Jessi Snapp

Day Two: Cheli Blasco  - including a tutorial for Holiday Stars
Day Three: Alex Hopper

On behalf of everyone at All That Love Can Do
we wish you peace and healing this holiday season.

*If you'd like to connect with other loss families for the holiday season, 

join the private group, HERE

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Day Twelve: Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Nichole Moblo, in memory of Myra, you've won the 12 photo package! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your gift. 

If you didn't win, you can still order something beautiful for your baby from The Sacred Seashore. This year's holiday photo is only $1!
~ ~ ~

Our twelfth giveaway is open to all baby/child loss families.

Friends and family may enter on behalf of a loss family, but it must go to a family whose child died. 

Enter to win a year of custom memorial photographs from The Sacred Seashore!

The winner will receive 12 photos. One of each photo from the 2015 monthly collection. 

To Enter:

You must be the family of a child who died, or entering on behalf of a loss family.

1. Like All That Love Can Do, and The Sacred Seashore on Facebook.
2. Comment below, or on the Facebook post, with your child's name(s), or nickname, and why you'd like to win.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced here and on Facebook on December 13th.

Good luck!

12 DOC: Day Twelve: Chloë Sóleyjarmóðir

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

Three Christmases 
by Chloë Sóleyjarmóðir

Christmas Eve 2012.
We're spending the holiday at the family's cottage in Brittany and I'll be 24 in five days. For some reasons, I've always considered this birthday as a special one, a personal deadline of mine. I had promised myself a long time ago that i would be pregnant by then. And now I am! Three months into my first pregnancy, and I'm walking on sunshine, so excited to share my first Christmas with my child. My baby is perfect and I'm feeling fantastic, strong and proud, super confident - because pregnancy loss only happened in the first trimester, right ? I'm safe now, right?

If I'm a bit nervous, it's only about sharing the good news with my family. I don't want to hurt my uncle and my aunt - they're both in their forties, childless not by choice, and going through an uncertain adoption process, so i don't want to rub my happiness in their faces. But to be honest i don't feel guilty, either. I remember looking at them thinking - it's not like they really need children anyway. They're so happy already, so in love with each other, and they have such an exciting life, full of adventures, love and music !

I realize now that my reaction said much more about me than about them. I will never know if they secretly mourned the children they never had, or if their lives were truly full - but i know mine was empty. I had been dreaming about becoming a mother for the past ten years, feeling like my whole life was nothing but a path leading to that specific baby. 

Six months later, on the day my daughter was born, I felt relieved - saved, even - and I thought, no matter what happens now, I will always have my baby.

Christmas Eve 2013.
We're spending the holiday at the hospital and I'll be 25 in five days. Soley has been diagnosed with a brain tumor just three months ago. My friend who lives nearby lent us her apartment for the evening, so my parents and siblings could spend some times with us for Christmas. We take turns at Soley's bedside - she has been in pain since her last surgery last week, and we just started high dose chemo today.

I am exhausted, desperate, broken. This is definitely not the first Christmas I had planned for her. I couldn’t even find her a Santa Claus costume - for some reason, this tiny detail is sad. When I finally leave her with someone else to run to the apartment, I realize no one really planned the meal and there's not much to eat. Everyone is blaming each other for the fiasco. "It's not my fault", my little sister justifies herself. "I told you I was going to cook tomorrow's meal." I throw her a dirty passive-aggressive look. Yeah, nice to know that you'll all enjoy a nice meal tomorrow, while I'll be eating hospital food all alone. I'm disappointed and angry, mostly because I was hoping for some kind of Christmas truce. But there's no truce in cancer world.

The day after Christmas, Soley stops breathing and a very stressed medical team has to ventilate her. I ask if she is dying and for the first time, they don't say no. When they figure out she is having an intolerance to morphine, they push an antidote and she gets better by the hour. She sleeps through the whole afternoon, and most of the night. When she finally wakes up at 4 am, she looks fine and we play for a whole hour. It's like our own Christmas in the middle night.

The same day, the little boy in the room next to ours dies.

Christmas Eve 2014.
We're back to the cottage in Brittany and I'll be 26 in five days. Soley is not with us - she died seven months ago. But my uncle and my aunt are there. At about the same time my daughter was transferred to palliative care, their adoption process went through and they flew to South America to pick up two children. A little boy and a little girl, now running around the house, tearing their gifts paper. My head is spinning. I feel like the universe is mocking me, like I'm the butt of some sick joke. I can hear the voices in my head - "So you thought they didn't need children, hum? What about you? How bad do you need yours now?" 

So, so bad. So bad I can't breath.

The house is full of people but I've never felt so lonely. My uncle complains about his issues at work, the conversation goes on for hours and I feel like screaming. Are you f***ing kidding me?? My baby died! My baby is dead! Who cares about your stupid problems! But the world keeps on turning, like nothing happened.

I know it's not their fault, it's not even about them, really. I know they're doing their best. I can't say my family isn't supportive. They made a collage using Soley's pictures with their new children. My other aunt isn't afraid to ask questions about Soley, giving me the most precious gift: a space to talk about her. My little cousin even helps with the flying lantern release in her honor. 
Writing notes on our Soley paper lantern 
Yeah, I know they're doing their best. But their best is not enough. Nothing could be enough to ease this burning pain on Christmas eve. They got their Christmas miracle. I didn't. In the end, that's all there is to say. 

If this is your first Christmas after loss, here are my suggestions : Be gentle with yourself. Being around children, or just being around people, can be extra hard during the holidays. I know I shouldn't have put myself through it. Don’t fake the joy and the gratitude if you can’t find them in your heart. No one can expect this from you - not even yourself. 
~ ~ ~

Chloë Sóleyjarmóðir is 26, and a high school teacher. But before anything else, she's Soley's mom. Soley was diagnosed at age 3 months with an aggressive kind of brain cancer called ATRT. She showed an amazing fight through months of hospital and chemotherapy, but treatment was ineffective and she died at 11 months. Soley is her only baby, and remains her whole world. You can read about her story on her blog, Our Time in Cancer World. She also writes for Still Mothers

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day Eleven: Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Angela Nail, for her husband, in memory of her twins, Jack and Alice, has won! Angela, please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your gift.

And, if you didn't win, you can still purchase something special from Aaron's Angel Arms.

~ ~ ~
Our eleventh giveaway is open to all baby/child loss families in the U.S.

Friends and family may enter on behalf of a loss family, but it must go to a family whose child died. 

Enter to win a custom gift from Aaron's Angel Arms!

The winner can chose any item with up to three charms!

Learn more  and see options at Aaron's Angel Arms.

To Enter:

You must be the family of a child who died, or entering on behalf of a loss family, in the U.S. 

1. Like All That Love Can Do and Aaron's Angel Arms on Facebook.
2. Comment below, or on the Facebook post, with your child's name(s), or nickname, and why you'd like to win.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced here and on Facebook on December 12th.

Good luck!

12 DOC: Day Eleven: Maureen Schaefer

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

by Maureen Schaefer

Holidays are supposed to be a special time of joy, remembrance, family, faith, and fun. Holidays as a bereaved parent,though, can be just the opposite; grief filled, with faith hard to find, little fun, and a constant reminder that our children are gone.  The focus is so much on family and togetherness, but every fiber of our being is crying out that part of our family is missing.  The rest of the world wants to just carry on with their normal celebrations but that feels incredibly wrong to us.  How can they celebrate while our hearts are crushed?  Worse, how can they expect us to join them in their celebrations?

Especially if this is your first holiday season after loss, I encourage you to remove the word “should” from your vocabulary.  No, you should not feel obligated to go to the huge multi-generational gathering at Great Aunt Ida’s where there will be 100 screaming infants. No, you should not think you have to do every tradition that you have done in years past. No, you should not have to go to midnight mass surrounded by happy families looking like they just stepped out of their Christmas card.  Please don’t let anyone else pile expectations on you and how you should spend the holidays this year.

This year, of all years, give yourself permission to make no obligations but to just decide your plans in the moment. Truthfully, you don’t know how you will feel at the big family gathering. It may turn into a source of strength and support, if your family is particularly empathetic and you are in a place to receive it.  But it also carries the risk of having serious damage done in your family relationships when some unthinking relative asks if you are “over it” yet.   I am not saying that you absolutely should stay home; it's not my place to tell you what you should do either.  But I would suggest that you only give “maybe” as an answer about your attendance to any event and only consider attending events that are local so that you can quickly make an escape back to home if the event proves to be too much.

The holidays may trigger your grief in unexpected ways.  Your favorite Christmas classic movie may suddenly turn into a crying fest when the thought crosses your mind that you won’t be sharing this movie with your son.  Or the Christmas cookies may suddenly taste like salty tears as the idea of never getting to bake them with your daughter won’t leave your mind.  It is impossible to predict everything that will bring your grief rising to the surface.  Please try to let yourself feel those moments; suppressing your grief will only make it worse.

Incorporating your child into your holidays can bring comfort and help you do some intentional grieving.  There are craft ideas in the previous year's articles and new ones shared this year. You might consider making ornaments for the tree that honor your child or making a stocking for your child. However, if you find the actual doing of these projects is too much for you this year, then maybe just save a favorite idea for completing next year.

Give yourself grace to live in the moment this holiday season and do what will nurture you.  If you need to avoid all things Christmas, that's okay!  Share that need with your spouse  so that you can make a plan together.  At our house, I’m planning a Star Wars marathon so I can avoid all the sappy commercials on TV but will still make my husband the traditional meal that he wants. This is our first year staying home but I am looking forward to not having to be "on" for a family gathering. If you can make new traditions for just you and your spouse, then that’s even better so that it can draw you closer together.

Know that you are not alone; we grieve with you this holiday season.

~ ~ ~

Maureen Schaefer (known as Reen to her online friends) has been married to her husband since March of 2011. They started trying to add to their family shortly after the wedding but soon found themselves batting infertility and recurrent miscarriage. Maureen found information and solidarity in her online support groups and eventually began to help moderate a group for those pursuing advanced methods of trying to conceive. She also co-founded a group for those actively trying to conceive who have experienced two or more pregnancy losses or babies born still. Now, after five pregnancy losses, Maureen is coming to terms with living a childless life. She writes for Still Mothers. Join her on BabyCenter: Actively Trying with Repeat Loss, and Still Mothers – Living Childless after Loss.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day Ten: Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED! We have a winner!

Mindy Bausch, you've won the book and initial art! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your gifts!

~ ~ ~

Our tenth giveaway is open to all baby/child loss families in the U.S.

Friends and family may enter on behalf of a loss family, but it must go to a family whose child died. 

Enter to win a copy of the book, Two Little Monkeys, by Kim Jackson!

Two Little Monkeys is a children's book written about twins. It's about the decision to Carry to Birth after learning one twin will not live, the loss of a baby, and the love that continues after that loss.

The person who wins this book, will also receive a special initial painting - in colors of their choice -in memory of his or her child <3

To Enter:

You must be the family of a child who died, or entering on behalf of a loss family, in the U.S. 

1. Like All That Love Can Do on Facebook.
2. Comment below, or on the Facebook post, with your child's name(s), or nickname, and why you'd like to win.

**One extra enter for families of Twinless Twins. Just say, "I have Twinless Twins" in your comment.**

The winner will be randomly selected and announced here and on Facebook on December 11th.

Good luck!

12 DOC: Day Ten: Kim Jackson

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

by Kim Jackson

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year.
I loved planning and putting together gifts, watching them get opened and seeing the excitement on my nieces and nephews faces when they opened them. It was amazing.
Two years ago at Christmas I was 34 weeks pregnant with my twins Noah and Tess. I had them both safe with me. But it was the first Christmas I was truly not happy and excited. I knew my time with Tess was drawing to a close, as she had been diagnosed at 12 weeks the birth defect Anencephaly. Several well meaning people gave me Christmas gifts for Noah, but there were none for Tess. I don't think that they meant to hurt me, but it was the beginning of pretending she didn't exist, and it shattered my heart.
Two weeks later my babies arrived. Tess fought like hell, and stayed with us for 30 hrs. It was amazing and perfect, but so short. The first 8-9 months were a blur of loving Noah and missing Tess. Then I was doing ok, until December. It all came back and overwhelmed me. I remembered spending that last month at home just feeling every kick and snuggling my babies close. I remembered that feeling of Tess being forgotten before she was even gone.
Halfway through December I decided that she would not be forgotten this year or any other Christmas. At least not in my house. She had a stocking up with all the rest. The stuffed monkey with her heart beat was included in holiday pictures. She had an ornament on our big tree, but I also put up a little one that was all hers in my bedroom. I bought a few things for a baby girl who would be her age and gave them away at the clinic I work at. She was there with us.
It helped, it helped a lot. It did not change the fact that she was not physically there. I still missed her horribly. I still felt like I was faking my way through, and I felt guilty that like so many other milestones in Noah's life, I couldn't be truly completely happy at his first Christmas. But I could breathe, I could function. I could make it a happy Christmas for Noah.
It also showed people in my life that I needed her to be remembered. My sister gave me a beautiful journal to write to Tessie, with a beautiful entry of her own. I am not sure she would have known how perfect that was if I hadn't been so open and insistent in including her in our celebrations.
I am sure that through the years Tess will always be part of our traditions. I doubt they will remain exactly the same. I think they will grow with us. When Noah is school age I will prob have him write letters to his twin sister and put them in her stocking for Santa to bring to her. I will get Noah involved in picking a gift for his sister, to donate.
I know Christmas will continue to be difficult, seeing my son enjoy it and missing his sister at that same time. Because Noah and Tess were twins, every milestone reminds me that there is one when there should be two. However, keeping her memory alive seems to help.
This year, I am dreading Christmas a little less than last year. I have a plan to include her. I will continue the things we did last year. She will have a stocking. She will have her tree. She will be represented in our family holiday pictures. I will buy a present or two to donate in her honor. Others may forget her, but she will be with our little family at Christmas, always.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year. Maybe some day it will be again. For now it enough that I can make it Noah's favorite time of year, and keeping Tess with us.
~ ~ ~
Here's an idea for something special you can make in memory of your child. If you have living children, they can make one too!
Initial paintings
I made these paintings with my son, niece and nephew to put up in our home. Super simple. They loved it (all under 6). And of course they all helped making one for Tess too, so she was included.
Supplies: plain canvas (we used 8"x12"). Painters tape. Paint, painting implements (paintbrushes, sponges, etc, Noah also used a car that he drove through the the paint on his.
Steps: Tape the initial out on the canvas. (You can measure and mark first if you want. I just free hand put the initial on with the tape)

Give the canvas and paint to the kids and let them go to it!

Let paint dry completely, then remove the tape. (You're done!)

~ ~ ~

Kim Jackson is a pediatrician from Buffalo NY who decided that she was ready to have a baby, despite not finding Mr Right. She had IUI with donor sperm and got pregnant with not just one baby, but two. At 12 weeks she got the devastating news that one of her babies would not live long after birth due to the birth defect anencephaly. Noah and Tess were born 1/13/14. Tess lived for 30 amazing hours and was a beautiful soul. Noah is happy and healthy and sweet little boy. Kim is learning to balance loving Noah and missing Tess. She admins the group Parents of Twinless Twins on Facebook. She wrote the book, Two Little Monkeys.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

12 DOC: Tutorial: Holiday Remembrance Dishes

*This tutorial is part of the 12 Days of Christmas series. Read more here.

Holiday Remembrance Dishes Tutorial

By MaryJo Carlson

An easy, inexpensive and fun way to keep our precious babies/grandbabies memory alive at the Christmas table.

Supplies Needed:
  • A porcelain plate and cup - you can find them at any dollar store or WalMart for a very small amount of money.  

  • Permanent pens in desired colors. There are many bands out there - any brand works, again any dollar store, WalMart, etc. 
  • A Design - Create your own design or find a design online that you would like to copy.  
Steps:1. Draw with the permanent pens on the porcelain. Make sure you put their name on it, or something special that reminds you of your them. You can also write a special note to your baby, if you'd like!

2. Place plate and cup in over and set the temperature for 350 degrees. Once the temperature has reached 350 start timing. Bake for 30 minutes and then turn off oven and leave the plate and cup in until cool.  

3. You're done! Set them at the Christmas table to reserve their memory spot.

~ ~ ~

Be sure to read MaryJo's 12 Days of Christmas post, HERE.

Day Nine: Giveaway: Winner!

This giveaway is now CLOSED. We have a winner!

Winnie Fowler Williams, in memory of Campbell, you've won the bracelet! Please contact us HERE within 24 hours to claim your gift.

And, if you didn't win, you can order a bracelet for yourself at On A Butterfly's Wings.

~ ~ ~

Our ninth giveaway is open to all baby/child loss families in the U.S.

Friends and family may enter on behalf of a loss family, but it must go to a family whose child died. 

Enter to win an Endless Love bracelet handcrafted by On A Butterfly’s Wings, in memory of their daughter Emma. You can find them online to read their story and mission, as well as their blog, and resources for parents who have lost a baby to stillbirth.

"Our Endless Love Bracelet is the design that started it all, and it is our charitable cause product. The proceeds from each Endless Love Bracelet sold are used to create care packages for parents grieving the loss of their precious baby to stillbirth. The care packages are then donated to a local hospital. "

To Enter:

You must be the family of a child who died, or entering on behalf of a loss family, in the U.S. 

1. Like All That Love Can Do, and On A Butterfly’s Wings on Facebook.
2. Comment below, or on the Facebook post, with your child's name(s), or nickname, and why you'd like to win.

The winner will be randomly selected and announced here and on Facebook on December 10th.

Good luck!

12 DOC: Day Nine: MaryJo Carlson

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

Being Brave Enough to Say No
by MaryJo Carlson

I didn’t realize I was brave until years later and I looked back on our story. I only did what I knew I could do, and not what I couldn't. What I did was to say no to celebrating holidays after our grandson died. What I couldn’t do is lie about how I felt and pretend just to follow the traditions of this world.  Some may say lie is a harsh word to use in this situation but to me that is what it was. It was a lie to celebrate while every part of me was barely making it through each day.  My mother’s heart was totally broken.  Watching my daughter grieve the loss of her son is the hardest thing I have ever endured.  My grandmother’s heart was shattered without my grandson Samuel to love and adore here on earth.  

What do I do with this love? 

What do I do with this longing? 

What do I do with this despair; the complete loss and absence of hope? 

What do I do with my inability to heal my daughter and son-in-law’s hearts?

How do I do daily life and add holidays to it with a broken heart? 

I didn’t. I said no and it was the best thing I did.  But it was not easy.  I did not know I was being brave, I was only doing what I could do, and saying no to what I could not do, and that was celebrate.  

It took time, lots of time for me to truly grasp that the way to heal a broken heart it to let grief come and do its work. I personally believed God understood my broken heart.  I did not feel that the first year or the second. I felt utterly abandoned by God. Those were my darkest nights of my soul. There was no glimmer of a Christmas that first year.  That is almost none except right before Christmas day we dug out the lights and put some up to shine up to the heavens as a symbol to our grandson that we loved him and missed him so very, very much. And then I realized in a small and slow way that is what I do with this love for him and for my daughter and son-in-law is honor him, talk about him, celebrate his life even though he is not here with us. I needed to find ways to let this love flow out to others.  To find ways to walk this path with those who are grieving the loss of their precious and so very missed little ones. My longing for our story to be different slowly turned into a longing to make a difference in other hurting people’s life.

My despair was grief working its way through my heart and soul. With no hope there is no life and slowly but surely hope is returning.  No longer was it hope for things to change but hope that my life’s story could bring comfort to other hurting hearts. My new hope found a home by showing love to those who were just starting their journey of grief. To help them know they are not alone, that someone was out there that knew their kind of pain and cared deeply about their heart. I do not have the power to heal my daughter and son-in-law’s hearts but I can make a conscious effort to walk with them on their grief journey for the rest of my earthly life. 

To long with them for that day they will be reunited with their son in heaven.

To remember him and include his memory in our day in and day out life. 

Our holidays have changed completely.  We look for ways to have a much more peaceful, simple, quiet life which includes holidays.  We are learning to live a life that offers love to those who we come in contact with knowing that they may be carrying a grieving heart in need of encouragement. To live a life that forgives quickly. We want to offer this life hearts that are completely changed by this love that we carry; the love for a little boy gone-too-soon.  We will never stop wishing we had our grandson here with us. 

But we are believing that will change in an instant the moment we arrive in heaven. Are we healed? No, but we are more settled into incorporating this love and longing into our life.  The despair has turned into purpose; our inability to control life has found a peace and acceptance. And our love finds ways to add beauty to this life from our brokenness. A little boy named Samuel Evan is deeply loved, he is desperately missed and he has changed this grandma’s heart into truly knowing that every life, no matter how short, has great purpose.  Samuel’s life and his story is all about love and that love is 
continuing to do all that love can do. 

Over the past years of 12 days of Christmas I have shared how to incorporate Samuel’s life into our gatherings. You can read about that here

I grew up in a home where meals were a focal point to our celebrations.  My mother was an amazing cook and therefore the legacy of gathering around a table to enjoy good food together remains in me. Therefore, the idea of an empty chair for Samuel it a valuable part of our keeping his memory alive and lends itself to easily talking about him and imagining him with the family as we gather together this Christmas. Children are the very best at this.  They simply and lovingly talk about what he might be doing if he were here.  They imagine what he is doing in heaven.  We accept that tears still flow when we talk about him but we have added joy now to those talks.  We have his place card at his space at the table.  We have his candle there as well and this year we will be adding a plate and cup that I made.  It is a simple, inexpensive and creative way to continue to keep his memory alive in our life as a family.  

The tutorial on how to make the plate and cup will be shared later today.  

Wherever you find yourself on your grief journey today I want to offer my love to you.  If you are a loss mama or daddy this is the hardest thing you will ever do. I fully and completely honor and respect you for making it through each and every minute of every day. 

As a loss grandparent my heart knows a different pain, it runs deep and wide and desperate to fix this for my daughter and son-in-law but sadly I cannot. If you are a loss grandparent know you are not alone on this journey. I “get it”. Remember your grandchild and proudly carry their name with you on life’s journey. You are a grandparent to a perfect grandchild, go ahead and brag!  

My wish for each of you is that love and peace will comfort you in the moments when you need it the most this Christmas.

~ ~ ~
MaryJo Carlson and her husband David have five children. Their oldest daughter is RaeAnne Fredrickson, who started All That Love Can Do in memory of her precious son, Samuel Evan. MaryJo is a stay at home mom and grandma who now spends her time finding way to bring light and encouragement to others who have had to say goodbye to their beautiful grandchildren, way too soon. 

She runs the private groups, ATLCD_Grandparents (for loss grandparents), and Still Grandparents (for loss grandparents without a baby born after loss). 

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