The holidays can be a joyous time spent making memories with friends and family. It is a time for traditions and gatherings, meals and music, and giving and receiving. For many people, however, the holidays can be a painful time if they are missing loved ones in Heaven. The spirit of the season can magnify their grief and steal their joy.
As a mommy to a little girl in Heaven, I know that each year I seem to miss Bridget even more during the holidays. It's a time when her absence in our family seems to be amplified. I think about what memories we would be making with her, what traditions we would have started, and how cute she'd look in a Christmas dress in our family photos next to the tree. I wonder what she would look and be like, how our family would be interacting with her, and what presents I would be laying under the tree for her. There are so many dreams and wishes I had longed to share with her year-round, but the holidays would have been extra special to spend with her.
Though Heaven and Earth may separate us from Bridget for now, my husband and I, and our families, make it a priority to remember her during the holiday season. We have started new traditions to keep her memory alive. Though it doesn't replace her actual presence, it does give me peace knowing she is included and remembered, and it allows me to enjoy the holidays despite missing her so much.
It's important to remember that everyone grieves and heals differently, but I pray that you are able to find meaningful ways to reflect and remember your babies in Heaven during the holidays. I'd like to share some of the ideas that have been helpful to our families:
*Decorate a special tree for them. Each year, my friend Casey (Jack's Mommy) and I decorate their graves with a table-top real tree. We use solar-powered lights that stake in the ground so that they light up at night. You could also purchase a small artificial tree that stays in a special place in your home. Decorate the memorial tree with sentimental ornaments (e.g., with their name, initial, or special colors). Keep the decorations in a special box and save it to be used year after year.
*Place a memorial ornament for them on your main family Christmas tree. Remembering Our Babies Memorial Keepsake Boutique offers a variety of remembrance Christmas ornaments in memory of your baby.
*Etsy has many different shops that offer personalized Christmas stockings. You can have your baby’s name embroidered on a special stocking or just their initials or monogram. We even asked for a shop to make a custom stocking to be the same length as Bridget and write her name in a color that we had chosen for her nursery (see middle stocking).
*Give a gift in memory of a baby. There are many organizations, including ours, that accept donations in memory of babies in Heaven. Some wonderful organizations that serve bereaved families include: Molly Bears, Hannah’s Hope, Hope Mommies, etc. Bridget’s Cradles offers a special 8x10 personalized “In Memory” certificate to give a bereaved family in honor of your donation so that they can print & frame if if they choose.
*Include your baby's name on your Christmas card. This photo & Christmas announcement was from last year. We have chosen to continue to include Bridget's name on our cards year after year.
*Take your family photos for your Christmas cards with a special memorial item to show your baby's presence in your family (e.g., a Molly Bear, stuffed animal, picture frame, etc). This year we chose to include Bridget's "Molly Bear" in our family photo.
There are many other ways to memorialize your baby in Heaven and include them in your holiday & family traditions. I pray that you find ways that are meaningful to you and can help give you peace and joy during this season.
I sincerely believe that God, and our babies in Heaven, want us to enjoy this special season even despite our mourning and grief. We can do that by finding positive ways to reflect & remember our little ones in Heaven and to honor their memory in our homes and traditions.
Please know that my heart aches and grieves with you for your losses and I am lifting you up in prayer, that our Savior (the baby born on Christmas), will comfort and sustain you during this season.
Ashley // Bridget's Mommy