If you’ve lost a baby like I have, it may feel particularly hard to celebrate a holiday all about a young mother giving birth to a perfect baby. It seems there are triggers all around.
I remind myself that the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus is because he was born to die. He was born and lived a sinless life only to suffer the punishment of sin in our place. Because of Jesus’s birth and death, God knows what it’s like to lose a child. Because of Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection, our children experience life and love in heaven. Because of Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection we will be reunited one day. That’s something to celebrate!
You may still not feel like celebrating this year, and that’s ok. There are more years to come.
When someone experiences loss, they not only have to face their new reality, but they also are bombarded with philosophical and societal questions. These questions would be hard to face in the best of times.
Do I actually have no control?
Why did this happen?
Was God in control? How could he let this happen?
What does this mean about my reality?
How would my situation be different if I was in a different place or time?
How would grief be handled differently if I was in a different place or time?
Could this been prevented? Should this be prevented?
These questions expand your world view. You think differently than you once did. You realize that we truly do live in a broken world.
It becomes impossible to go back to sitting atop your Maslow hierarchy pyramid, staging your perfect Instagram picture.
You can’t help but see your neighbor in the depths of their own pyramid. You have to jump down to meet them there – maybe to help, but most likely to just be present with them there.
When you see the fullness of life that’s brought forth through suffering, you don’t shy away from suffering the way you once had. You don’t ask advice from the person with the perfect life you’ve always wanted. You now ask the person who has been through the wringer. You aren’t afraid of interacting with people in pain. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to interact with them than the “happy” people.
When you witness or experience suffering it is often difficult to go back to “normal” life. Many people don’t go back. Students on a missions trip choose to be full-time missionaries. Patients become doctors or nurses. People become social workers, first responders, service men and women, foster parents. These people run toward suffering, knowing their life will be fuller. A comfortable life is not a full life. A pretty life is not a full life. Love is more powerful in pain than it is in comfort.
Most of us face suffering because we have no choice, but once you have faced it, you find yourself able to walk with others who are going through hardship. That’s a gift.
You see suffering in places you never looked before. You may have ignored the experiences of someone different from you. You now see their pain, and you don’t look away. You stay there with them. You try to understand.
Reaching out of my comfort zone used to mean giving a big presentation at work or signing up for a challenging project. It was an opportunity to expand my skills and climb the ladder. Now stepping out of my comfort zone is talking to people I wouldn’t have, admitting things I used to never admit, sharing my heart, and truly listening to others. There’s much more love in these things.
I’m still her mom. I still have all the desire to mother her this Christmas… and everyday. But how does one mother a child who isn’t here? These are my plans. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Keep Her Memory
- Talk about her. Bring her into conversation.
- Remember last Christmas when I was carrying her.
- Hang an ornament for her. Our amazing friends Katie and Josh had a beautiful one made for us.
- Hang her stocking as a visual reminder that we have a daughter in heaven.
- Donate Christmas gifts to a child in need each year (Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, etc). We will use the money we would’ve spent on Ginny for Christmas. I’ve asked our family to do the same.
- Write her a letter every year and place it in her stocking. My mom planned on doing this since we first lost Ginny.
Do Good on Her Behalf
- Have a day of random acts of kindness in honor of Ginny. I heard of a family who does this and hands out little cards that say, “Random Acts of Kindness in honor of ___. Pass it on!”
- Volunteer for an organization that helps those going through hard times.
Acknowledge My Loss
- Give myself grace about how I feel during Christmas; lower expectations if needed.
- Give myself space to step away if I need to; communicate to family that this might be needed.
- Know this is hard.
Celebrate the Hope of Christ
- Because Jesus came, death is not the end. We will be reunited with Ginny!
- The glory of Jesus is real to us in a new way this year. Rejoice in that!