Including Your Child in Heaven in Your Christmas on Earth

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Holidays are hard when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. It seems that every tradition, every song, every festive event is a reminder of what could have, should have, would have been, if only things had been different.

For the last couple of years, our Naomi’s Circle support group for parents who are journeying through the loss of a baby in pregnancy or infancy has spent our December meeting making ornaments in memory of our children in Heaven. This year, we also talked about the other things we do to incorporate the memory of our children in Heaven into our family holiday celebration.

If this is your first Christmas (or second, or seventh, or seventieth) without your child, perhaps some of them will resonate with you and bring a smile to your face as you include him or her in your Christmas on Earth. And while they were inspired and shared by parents missing their children, many are appropriate for those missing any kind of loved one.

Decorating your Home

I mentioned this already, but making or purchasing Christmas tree ornaments in memory of your child is a beautiful way to remember them every year. This year, I made a wooden snowman and put the names of our whole family on the back. We also put up small stockings for our children in Heaven, to be filled not with toys but with memories of what they mean to us.

snowflake ornament with names of family members, in Heaven and on Earth.
My family’s snowflake ornament we made with the names of family members, in Heaven and on Earth.

Visiting the Cemetery

If you have a grave to visit, decorating it for Christmas can be a special family activity. While you are there, why not find an undecorated grave and leave a gift behind for that grieving family?

A child's grave marker with a snowman decoration on it.
A child’s grave marker with a snowman decoration on it.

Symbolism

Some families have a special symbol – such as butterflies or a certain kind of bird – that reminds them of their child in Heaven and they decorate with it during the holidays, or have an ongoing activity of looking for that symbol as a reminder of God’s love.

Christmas tree with cardinal decorations on it.
Christmas tree with symbolic cardinal decorations.

Pay it Forward

Christmas is a great time to bless others. Many families choose a ministry such as Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree, or Toys for Tots, and purchase toys for a child the age their child in Heaven would have been this year.

Family Pictures and Cards

These can be particularly hard when you are missing a child. Few things can trigger your grief as much as a family picture that is missing someone in the family. Some ways to include your child in Heaven are to wear a particular piece of jewelry in memory of your child, hold a framed picture or include a special stuffed animal. One family I know hides the first letter of their child’s name in every Christmas picture for family and friends to find. Another family made a rubber stamp for the back of their Christmas card envelopes that has their son’s initials on it.

Some families include a special significance in their holiday cards of a child lost.
Some families include a special significance in their holiday cards of a child lost.

None of these ideas will cause us to miss our children less, especially at Christmas, but they can, perhaps, lessen some of the sting the holidays can cause. Especially know that if this Christmas is hard for you because of the child you lost, you are not alone. Please feel free to contact Naomi’s Circle ([email protected]) if you would like to connect with other Midlands parents on the same journey.

What are other holiday traditions that you have to include the child you are missing in your Christmas celebration?

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Kristi is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer, and former public school teacher for English for Speakers of Other Languages. She grew up all over the United States as an Air Force brat, but moved to Columbia in the 1990s to attend Columbia International University, and has called the Midlands “home” ever since. Her days are kept full with the antics and activities of her children - homeschooling, church activities, American Heritage Girls, and Trail Life - as well as writing and leading her Columbia-based pregnancy loss ministry, Naomi’s Circle. Kristi is a contributing editor for “Rainbows and Redemption: Encouragement for the Journey of Pregnancy After Loss” (www.rainbowsandredemption.weebly.com) and a co-author of “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother“ (sunshineafterstorm.us). She shares her thoughts about faith, family, and femininity on her blog, This Side of Heaven (www.thissideofheavenblog.com).

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