The holiday season is bittersweet.
As we age, we realize that great love comes with a price. And though we’re taught to practice gratitude for the people and things we have during the holidays, it’s important to make space for those we no longer do.
We can ignore and distract and bury those painful parts for as long as our hearts desires—but they still exist.
The thing is, grief doesn’t have to take center stage. If it does, that’s okay. But know that it’s normal and valid to feel many things at once. We can celebrate the holiday season while mourning—and even honoring—someone or something that’s no longer there.
You can be moved by the beauty of a lit Christmas tree while grieving the baby who will never receive a gift beneath it.
You can savor the familiar taste of pumpkin pie with a painful awareness of a loved one’s absence at the dinner table.
You can relish in the sound of children caroling while yearning for the child who never will.
Sure, the holidays are filled with time-honored traditions and family get-togethers, but these special occasions tend to unearth wounds caused by things lost—like the babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, or other complications.
I talk a little bit about our recent miscarriage in my last post. And because I know so many of you have experienced similar loss, today I want to share ways to remember the soul I know you grieve for this holiday season.
Rather than turn my back on grief, I choose to invite it in for a cup of hot cocoa. I choose to honor it. Remember it. Sit in it when necessary.
For grief is the price of love, and love is never, ever lost.
Here are a few ways I’ve considered honoring the baby we lost this holiday season:
4 ways to remember a lost baby during the holidays
Christmas trees are the perfect slate for sentimental memorabilia. Putting up the tree with my family is a tradition I’ve always loved, and unwrapping each ornament collected becomes more and more special as another year passes by.
That’s why a Christmas tree ornament is the perfect way to remember a lost baby.
There are plenty of options out there to suit a variety of preferences, but I’m always partial to handcrafted ornaments. Some of them come with heartfelt quotes or messages, while others are simple and symbolic. You can even find ones to display your baby’s sonogram.
I’ve linked a few options I found and love below. Click on the image to view the item’s page, and the links below to view the shop and related IG accounts.
A remembrance tree
I really like this idea for larger families with children who are navigating the aftermath of pregnancy or infant loss, but it’s a great one for any family who is grieving.
Purchase a small tree and have each family member create a handmade ornament in honor of baby. Light it each night in remembrance.
Donate to charity
I’ve always felt that exercising compassion and empathy, especially while grieving, is an important step in healing. And what better way to do so then contributing to a charity that benefits less fortunate children during the holiday season. This is something I’ve wanted to instill in my daughter since she was born—and I think this year we’re finally going to do it.
Here are a few charities that benefit underprivileged children:
Operation Chirstmas Child. Select an age group and fill a shoebox with toys, hygiene items, clothing, and school supplies. You can include a personal note and photo, and “follow” your box to see its destination. Learn more.
Toys for Tots. Donate new toys to a drop off location near you. It’s organized by the U.S. Marine Corps, and aim’\s to offer hope to economically disadvantaged children during the holiday season.
Angel Tree. This gospel-based charity helps children who have at least one parent in prison. You can make a monetary gift to an Angel Tree child in your area.
Salvation Army’s Fill the Truck. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, shoppers at participating Walmart stores can drop off new toys and coats for children in The Salvation Army programs. Learn more.
You can also make monetary donations to organizations created to comfort the community of those who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss. Some ideas are: Molly Bears, Eden’s Wings, March of Dimes
If you can’t donate gifts, consider donating time. The options are pretty much endless: animal shelters, advocacy, faith-based organizations, youth programs, crisis support, food drives, and more.
As a work-from-home mom, I recognize what a privilege it is to be able to do this with my daughter. Granted, there are limitations with a toddler. But toddlers make the best helpers, and there are plenty of safe, reasonable things we can do to volunteer together in our community.
As my husband and I navigate our first few months post-miscarriage, we realize just how difficult the holiday season can be. For me, a part of managing these emotions is honoring baby and setting aside intentional moments to grieve and remember.
So I want to know—what has helped you cope during the holiday season? Have you come up with special ways to honor a baby after a loss?
Love and awkward hugs,