If the statistics are true, one out of every five of you have had a miscarriage. Maybe more than one. Many of you have had stillborn children, and some have even lost babies or young children.
For most the holidays are full of joy and great memories, but for some of us this can be the hardest time of the year.
Magical snowfalls, special outings or family traditions increase the burden you already carry because you wish so desperately that those littles you lost could be right there with you. You wish you could see thier little eyes lighting up at the twinkling lights and giggling through their baby teeth as they make their first snowman. Even years after your loss, it’s hard to make it through the holiday season without thinking about them and what life might be like had they never been lost.
I desperately wish that each of the babies my husband and I lost through miscarriage could experience the joy of Christmas morning like Coleton and Annabelle will this year.
Since our first loss, I have felt like our culture tries to “shush” miscarraige. Shove it in the closet. Forget it even happened. I sometimes feel like I have to downplay my pain and emotions related to my miscarraiges because they were “just first trimester miscarraiges.” But the truth is, losing a baby, miscarriage or otherwise, is incredibly painful. It hurts your heart in a way that you never knew was possible. Our recurrent miscarraiges were unexplained, but I believe that each little one we lost was a real little baby, each with a soul, a personality and a name. I’ve come a long way on my healing journey but the pain of those losses isn’t completely gone. I’m sure it will always be there, regardless of the number of children we have or years that pass by.
Everyone processes their baby losses in their own way, but I want to encourage you to keep the memory of the children you have lost alive this holiday season.
Here are some ideas to help you commemorate their little lives. Take some, leave some…whatever feels right to you. Don’t hesitate to do “that thing” that you’ve always wanted to do, but never allowed yourself to. However you want to celebrate your children who aren’t here with you right now, feel validated in doing so.
1. Write your story. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: healing comes through sharing your story. Write it out and share it through a blog or with close family and friends. Maybe you will tell your experience for the first time this Christmas with someone you trust.
2. Plant a tree or special plant. It can be potted in your home, planted in your yard or placed in a park or other location that is special to your family. Trees send out roots and establish themselves. They represent life as they grow and flourish. It’s amazing to see plants grow, bud and blossom, especially as they represent the beauty in even the short lives of our little ones.
3. Hang a stocking or ornament on their behalf. Each year when we hang our ornaments for the babies we miscarried, I cry. It’s so nice to have the opportunity to cherish what little time we had with each of them, and to represent their presence in our family even when we can’t see them.
4. Plan time at the cemetery. Take a wreath, gift, or note to leave at the grave site. Painful and therapeutic both.
5. Light a candle for them. Maybe you do this at church. Maybe you do it at home at a special meal, saying a prayer for them and/or setting a place for them at your table.
6. Donate a favorite seasonal book to the library or children’s wing of the hospital in their name. This will help you share love and joy with another little one. (If you have never named your baby, you could just donate in the name of “Baby R (last inital)” OR, maybe you’ve always wanted to name the child that you lost. Give yourself the freedom to do that, even if you didn’t know the gender yet.)
7. Find a child in need who is the same age your child would have been and buy Christmas gifts for them. (Consider Angel Tree, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Toys for Tots or maybe just a friend you know.)
8. Ask for a gift in their memory. It could be clothing, keepsakes, or jewelry. I have a couple necklaces that represent the babies I lost through miscarriage and these pieces of jewelry are more special to me than any other jewelry I own (aside from my wedding ring, of course!) The first one is my necklace that Kevin bought for me after our first miscarraige. When you look closely, you can see the mama holding her little baby; in the middle is a birthstone. It’s on a special chain with three strands. “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
The other is my “nest necklace.” This one represents the 6 babies we have lost and the two that are here with us. I love that necklaces are worn close to your heart.
9. Make or buy them a gift. If you love the thought of wrapping a special gift under the tree with his or her name on it, you should do it. Consider taking it a step further…
10. Write a letter to him/her/them. This one is my most favorite, and perhaps the most difficult. It tends to open up the floodgates…tears, emotions, heartache. It’s so hard, but so healthy to let yourself have that time to express your love and your feelings for that little one who never got the chance to crawl up on your lap and let you whisper into his or her soft little ears. Often times this morphs into a prayer letter for me, asking God to take care of them like I trust He already is. Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about anyone reading it. Just let yourself go there for a few moments. I think you’ll be glad you did.
These are just a few ideas, but do what you are comfortable doing to remember your child! Do not feel silly or stupid doing things this season (or ever for that matter) to help you remember the tiny, precious baby you miss. It is healthy, healing and life-giving for you.
The children we have lost will always hold a special place in our hearts, and I hope you take the time this season to cherish those memories and hold them close.
Blessings to you and yours.
How do you remember the babies you have lost? What am I missing that someone may find comfort in doing?