Sunday, November 17, 2013

Remembering Your Baby at Christmas

The holidays are a difficult time to face after losing a baby. It is such a special time that reminds you of everything you are missing out on. I have put together a few ideas on how to incorporate your baby into the season. I pray it brings you some peace, hope, and comfort and that it eases the ache in your heart just a little bit. I know Christmas is still several weeks away, but I wanted to share this with enough time for people to be able to participate in these things if they choose. I pray it brightens your Christmas season. It can be healing to come up with new traditions that honor your little one. It's important to give yourself permission to celebrate, even in the midst of sadness.

Photo by Carly Marie

-Think about setting up a sacred space in your home in honor of your baby this Christmas. You could get a mini-Christmas tree and decorate it with lights and whatever else you'd like. You could get a pink, blue or really any color tree, or go for a traditional one.

My tree for Lily and Luke
After you put the lights on your tree, place all the ornaments you have for your baby on it. If you don't have any ornaments yet, you could create some. A fun tradition would be to create an ornament each year for your baby. For the year you were pregnant, you could make one with your ultrasound photo, then for the year your baby was born, you could make one with their footprints/handprints. You could also use their photos, name, and birthdate, as well as things that remind you of your baby to create very beautiful ornaments that will last a lifetime. You could even create ornaments in honor of your little one to give to his/her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. You can also display ornaments for your child on your main Christmas tree. Seeing these special ornaments on the tree can help make your baby a part of the family gathering. You could also tie pink or blue ribbons on the tree (pregnancy and infant loss awareness).

Put candles around this special space and light them each night. You could even make a candle holder! Something I'm doing is making a photo collage of several Christmas prints from Carly Marie's RedBubble shop to be displayed in this special space. Take an evening to listen to songs that remind you of your baby and prepare this sacred, beautiful space. You don't need to spend much money to create this space. Get creative. Think of other keepsakes you could put on display.

One of my favorite artists, Tiny Dream Shop, creates lovely memorial ornaments. These are the two that I've gotten from her. Keep an eye on her website to see the ornaments she offers.

One of my other favorite artists, The Midnight Orange, also makes beautiful memorial Christmas ornaments. Here is mine! Check out her ornament selection.

-You could also make a Christmas wreath and decorate it to hang somewhere.

-Set aside a time to think of your baby. Go through his/her things, write a letter, or write in a journal/on your blog.

-Participate in the Remembering Together Swap to bring some light and love to a difficult time of year. You will receive an ornament with your baby's name, hand-made with love, from a fellow bereaved mother (or father or family). You will also make an ornament honoring a lost child to send to another family. This is such a wonderful idea! Even if you don't participate in this swap, you could do your own swap with people from your local grief support group, or other friends you've met along the journey of loss.

-Get something in honor of your baby from Carly Marie's Christmas Beach Wonderland Gallery.

You can post these photos on your Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc. Another fun idea would be to print them and frame them to be placed around your home as Christmas decorations. That way you can share your babies with others as well. Or as Carly Marie recommends, print out many copies to be sent out with your Christmas cards/letters. Speaking of Christmas cards, you could buy a special ink stamp that reminds you of your baby and use it as a way to "sign" your baby's name on the cards. Or even just draw a little heart or a special symbol that reminds you of your baby.

-Make a donation in honor and memory of your baby. Consider donating to a place that provides comfort to the babyloss community (places such as Molly Bears or Jamie's Butterfly Kisses, among many other places.) You could create a special book that keeps track of gifts given in your baby's name.

-Get a Christmas Angel Memorial Print from Butterfly Footprints.

-Pack and donate a shoe box to Samaritan's Purse for Operation Christmas ChildThe National Collection Week this year is November 18-25. I was thinking how hard it is not having my girl here to buy Christmas gifts for when I so long to. By participating in this, you can shop for a child the same gender as your baby and the same age they would be now. So, for me, I am filling a box for a little three year old girl. I can give another sweet child in need the things I would be giving Lily and still have the joy of shopping for these things and giving them, knowing they are going to bless someone. You could ask your close friends and family to donate a box in your child's honor as well. Little kiddos are going to be benefited that wouldn't have been if it weren't for your baby. This will be the second year my mom and I are doing this in honor of Lily and we are happy to make it a tradition each Christmas.

This is the box my mom and I filled last Christmas... we put wrapping paper on the outside of the box. 
-Donate to Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, in your child's honor.

-Donate to Compassion International's Christmas Gift Fund. This spring, I started sponsoring a child through Compassion International and was given the opportunity to send a Christmas gift to her. This is an amazing organization that I strongly encourage others to get involved with!

-Participate in the Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting Service on December 8th.

-Make or buy your baby a Christmas stocking to be hung with the rest of the family stockings. It can be healing to create things for your little one and a stocking would be something very special to make during this time of year. You could make it the same size as all your stockings or make it smaller. You could get a card from Lost For Words Card Line to put in the stocking. And if you have other children, they could draw a picture or write a note to their sister/brother. On Christmas Day, you could attach these special notes to a balloon to release to the Heavens. Or keep the letters/notes to keep in your baby's memory chest.

-Decorate your baby's special spot (where they are buried) for Christmas. You could decorate with a small tree, poinsettia, garlands, pinecones, fake berries, a wreath, statues, or anything else you can think of that is festive.

Lily's "special spot" decorated for Christmas last year. This year
will be the first that her permanent headstone can be decorated!
-You could serve the holiday meal at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your baby's honor.

-Many newspapers have holiday memorial pages where you can submit a note to your loved one.

-Check out the Holiday Gift Guide at Still Standing Magazine.

-Request a Christmas Angel from Evan's Lil Evergreen.

If you are reading this and know someone who has lost a baby, please tell them you are thinking of their little one this season. Also, consider getting a card from the Lost For Words Card Line, specifically for Christmas.

These things might not be for everyone, but hopefully you have gotten a couple ideas. Remember what you enjoyed and what you didn't enjoy so you can figure out how you want to celebrate the memory of your baby next year. If you have any other ideas, please share them with me! :)


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