Christmas is fast approaching now and with that comes an even bigger sense of loss for most grieving parents as we are surrounded by adverts of families and ornaments for baby’s 1st Christmas. I have been in two mind sets about Christmas this year. On the one hand I have been my usual self, very excited and desperate to decorate. I can’t wait for another Christmas with Beau as he understands a little bit more each year. On the other hand, I am heartbroken to know there is someone missing this Christmas and I know there will be a sense of emptiness on the big day as the realisation sets in.
I haven’t given too much thought to it until now. Probably as a way of protecting myself. I haven’t wanted to think about all the things we would have done differently. Even as I write this now it has only just popped into my head how different Christmas morning should have been. How we should have been a family of four all sat on mine and Fabians bed opening stockings. Beau no doubt would have been helping Silver to open hers! I never really know what is best to do. Try my best not to think about these things or allow myself to think about them and try to accept the reality and find a way to cope with these situations.
I wanted to share in this blog post some of the ideas we have personally come up with for how to celebrate Christmas this year in a gentle way where we can grieve but also include our little girl as much as possible.
1) A stocking. We had not been planning on buying Silver a stocking, it seemed sad to know it would never be filled however we couldn’t resist when we saw a pink stocking with an elephant on. Elephants were Silver’s special animal and so when we saw the stocking we didn’t even question it, we immediately picked it off the hook and went to pay for it. My only dilemma now was, as I said, that it would be heart breaking to see it empty next to all of our full ones.
So, we have come up with a plan. There will be three or so little gifts wrapped up inside which Beau will no doubt open. One gift will be for Fabian selected by me, one for Beau and one for myself which Fabian will select. Each of these three items will in some way represent Silver, for example Beau may receive an Elephant book or toy. So each year we can exchange a gift that represents our little girl and keeps her memory alive. There may also be some other gifts such as new ornaments for her shelf or for the home which are precious and meaningful to her. One such gift we have purchased is a beautiful light up bottle which will be our newest addition to her shelf in the living room. This also means she will still be a part of opening stockings on our bed on Christmas morning which eases my aching heart slightly.
2) Decorating her shelf. I have seen many parents on Instagram that have a designated memorial area within their home where they hold all of their child’s precious items proudly on display. For some this is a shelf, for others it may be a whole display cabinet. I think it is a lovely idea to decorate this area during the festive period and perhaps source ornaments which mean something to you and your precious little one. I am definitely not done decorating yet and will probably be adding lights or tinsel but so far I have two additions for Silver’s shelf.
I picked up a Silver Christmas tree from Hobbycraft for £2 which graces her actual shelf. I thought this was a perfect way of her having a little tree and of course the colour was perfect too. Then just underneath her shelf where her elephant hook is hung I have added an elephant tree ornament which I picked up from Primark for £1.50 I believe. I love the fact it is so glittery, definitely Silver’s style.
3) Tree ornaments. I know this is slightly similar to number two but I for example have three trees planned out for Silver. We always have problems with one of our cats climbing the tree so this year we have three trees. I have already bought some decorations, pictured below for the downstairs tree. This will be the tree full of non-precious items so I am unlikely to adorn it with any ornaments specific to Silver. Especially with the dog too I simply don’t want to risk losing anything precious due to animals. Instead my plan is to adorn it with generic Silver decorations and tinsel so it very much resembles her yet at the same time is animal friendly!
Our upstairs tree however will be slightly more glamorous with all our special ornaments. I am slowly growing a collection of ornaments which will represent Silver for this tree and since it will be in our bedroom it will be completely safe from animals. I think it’s such a lovely idea to find ornaments and decorations for your tree or home that make you think warmly of your baby and allow them to be included in the celebrations. If you do have older children this is also a nice way of allowing them to include their sibling and encourage them to pick ornaments which make them think of their sibling. You can also get some beautiful bespoke personalised baubles online too which you could have inscribed with your child’s name.
Our third tree wont actually have any ornaments because for the first time we will be having outdoor lawn decorations this year. Being in our new detached home we now actually have a front garden! I have a section of the garden dedicated to Silver with some climbing iceberg roses and dicentra (bleeding hearts) where she will be having a light up tree all to herself. Not only this but I have also purchased three white light up presents to be put under this tree, so she will also have presents. Perhaps you have a section in your garden or your child’s grave which you could adorn with Christmas lights, even if it is little Christmassy solar lights.
4) Another way you might chose to celebrate and honour your baby is through supporting a charity which has helped you either deal with the loss or actually supported your baby in their life. We have actually been supported by a few different charities and so after doing my research I found two of which that are selling Christmas cards to raise money. This year therefor my Christmas cards will be coming from the Sick Children’s Trust and the Tiny Lives Trust. This is a lovely way of spreading awareness too and perhaps if you feel you want to, you could even sign the card with your little one’s name included.
If your chosen charity is not doing Christmas cards then they may have a shop where you could purchase gifts which support the charity and you can tick some people off your list of who to buy for. Many charities sell stationary, mugs, flasks and clothing so its well worth checking out, you could maybe even treat yourself too!
Alternatively, you could also request that people don’t buy you gifts and instead make a donation to your chosen charity. Or ask for money instead of gifts so you can personally donate the money. I know Facebook is apparently quite good for you being able to set up fundraisers and allowing people to donate money so that could be an option for you.
5) Whilst we are talking about Christmas cards, I do think one lovely idea is to actually write a Christmas card to your little one who has passed. I know I will certainly be putting some thought into selecting the perfect daughter card this year for Silver and writing well wishes for her in heaven whilst telling her how much she is missed and loved. I will also write the year on the back of the card so that each year I can collect them together and over time I am able to look back and remember which Christmas each card was from.
These were Silver’s cards from last year, before we knew her gender. The first for my collection.
6) Talking. Yes, this is one thing I think most people could benefit from, or at least I know I will. Throughout Christmas day I think its really important to still talk about our babies. This may be hard for other family members who have perhaps moved on or dealt with their own grief differently but I know for me personally it will help. I find comfort talking often about Silver and Christmas day I will probably need that more than anything. Just to be able to talk about the positives, the things we love about her and the fond memories we have. I think especially once Beau is in bed that night we will probably sit together and simply speak her name and remember her. Maybe you would like to set aside some time on Christmas day where you dedicate it to speaking of your beloved baby with a family member or friend.
7) Allow yourself to cry. Okay, so I know this isn’t how to celebrate Christmas or honour your baby but it is a way of honouring your feelings and being kind to yourself. There is no doubt going to be times when quite simply it all becomes too much. I made a promise to myself at Halloween (Wiccan New Year) to be kinder to myself and I think in todays society a lot of other people need to make that resolution too. You are not weak for crying, it is completely normal even if you have been coping really well. Christmas is a time when we are surrounded by images of happy families and no one talks about the grief and loss that some families are going through. I know I am bound to cry many times over the festive season and instead of fighting it or feeling ashamed I’m simply going to accept it. I am going to ride through the emotions but still celebrate Christmas because my little girl would have still wanted me to enjoy this season and give Beau an amazing Christmas.
8) If you don’t feel you can or want to do anything such as decorating with your child in mind because you find it too overwhelming then maybe try something as simple as lighting a candle. I often find myself lighting Silver’s candles on anniversaries or her monthly birthday. A subtle way within the home which shows she is on our mind. There is so many beautiful scented and coloured candles to chose from nowadays you really can pick the perfect candle for your little one. We will be attending my parents this Christmas for lunch due to being 35 weeks pregnant on Christmas day but once we are home a candle will be lit on Silver’s shelf no doubt. I just have the task of finding the perfect candle for her now, perhaps I will buy a little tealight holder which has daughter wrote on it too. Another gift I can add to her stocking.
9) One Idea I have heard about but wont personally be doing is purchasing a Christmas outfit for the deceased baby in the size that they would have been at Christmas time. Personally, I think each year I would struggle seeing the size getting larger yet knowing Silver had in fact not grown and it would simply remind me of all the things she had missed. I guess this is all down to personal choice. I had debated buying a tiny baby size Christmas outfit for Silver but then again, if I did this every year, I am soon going to have a large amount of clothes and no space within my home without storing them all away. I feel if we do buy Silver a main present/ present from Santa that it will in fact be something very small which will allow us to do so each year without having to then decide to put anything into storage.
10) Attend a memorial service. This may be an option to some parents out there and if you are unsure it is certainly worth looking into. SANDS host a lights of love memorial service up and down the country throughout December which you can check on their website. Alternatively, there may also be local charities and organizations hosting events so it is something to consider looking up. We are hoping to attend a memorial service hosted by Tiny Lives in Newcastle as they took such good care of our little girl whilst she was alive and supported us after she passed away. I can assure you, I will be crying through the whole thing no doubt but at the same time going back to Newcastle always makes me feel close to Silver and as though I’m home again.
I hope some of these suggestions have been useful to you and perhaps given you some ideas as to how it is possible to have a gentle Christmas whilst navigating baby loss. I am not saying it will be at all easy and please give yourself permission to only celebrate as much as you feel comfortable and allow yourself to not celebrate at all if you don’t feel you can or want to. The most important thing is to do what is right for you and don’t allow others to tell you how you should be acting or feeling. It will be our first Christmas without Silver and I have to admit I am a little apprehensive to say the least. I would love to hear some feedback on any other suggestions you have on how to celebrate Christmas after baby loss and what things you will be doing for your baby this year.
With just over five weeks to go I want to prematurely wish everyone a very happy and gentle Christmas and send love out to all the grieving families and friends out there. Once I have all my decorations up, I will be posting on both my Instagram and Facebook pages so don’t forget to follow them so you can see exactly how we’ve chosen to decorate with Silver in mind.
Until next time,