The holidays are a time when feelings of happiness, love, and joy are magnified by the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, your grief is often magnified as well.
The first Christmas after I lost my precious triplet sons, I remember feeling almost paralyzed with grief when it was time to decorate the house. I imagined how our mantle would look with six stockings hanging in a row. I longed for three matching stockings to hang beside their big brother’s. A part of me wanted to skip the holiday all together and pretend it wasn’t even happening, but I had to pull myself together and give our two-year-old son the wonderful holiday season he deserved.
I wanted to honor their memory, but worried so much about what others might think.
I worried that if I hung up stockings for our angels, my family and friends might be uncomfortable. I worried that if I talked about how painful it was to try to celebrate the holidays without my babies, someone might think I was depressed and suggest that I “get some help.”
One day I was walking through the store and saw tiny monogrammed stockings. Something made me stop to look at them. Sure enough, there on the rack, were two letter J’s and a letter A. Perfect for our angels Johnny, Jaxsen, and Asher. I was so excited to buy them that I didn’t even cringe when the cashier asked me if they were for my children.
When I got home I carefully placed them on the mantle next the rest of our stockings and I actually felt happy. They seemed to be exactly what was missing. Even now, six Christmases later, our holiday decor is not complete until the three little stockings are in place.
Over the years, we have incorporated a few other things that serve as reminders of our babies. My sister bought us three little boy ornaments that our oldest son gently places on the Christmas tree every year. My parents have honored our triplets by including items in remembrance of them in their holiday decorations as well. It means so much to me that my family has chosen to include them.
Looking back now, I feel silly that I considered other people’s perception of the way I was handling MY loss. I know that I was entitled to grieve in whatever way I felt best. If you are mourning the loss of your child this holiday season, I urge you to do what feels right for you and your family.
To honor your child you can donate to a cause in your child’s name, sponsor a child from an angel tree that would be the same age as your child, or simply place something in your home that can be a reminder of your love for them. Whether you child was a baby when you last held them in your arms, or a grown adult, they are a part of your story and should always be honored the way you see fit.
If you are a friend or family member of someone who has lost their child you can show your support by sending them a card, an email, posting a message of remembrance as your Facebook status, or performing a random act of kindness in their child’s name.
When you are a parent who has lost a child, just hearing your child’s name or being reminded that they impacted the lives of others is the greatest gift you could receive.