|photo by Jo Puggioni|
For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays. Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season. Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.
I remember laughing when the doctor gave us the due date of December 25, when I became pregnant with my first baby. All the stories I hear of people born on Christmas Day, having to share their birthday with Christmas, came to mind. Now I would give anything to be able to give my baby a birthday present on Christmas day, or whatever day she was born. Except she wasn’t born. I miscarried at 12 weeks. By her due date I was pregnant again with my second child. But around Christmas I still felt the loss. I was surprised by this. It happened every time Christmas came around.
It wasn’t until years later after giving birth to three sons that I attended a reflection service for babies lost during pregnancy and infancy. Later that year, I went to a retreat that dealt with grief and loss from pregnancy or infancy. It was here that I learned that my grief from my miscarriage was valid, and instead of pushing the feelings of grief aside, I could now embrace it when it came, and ride the storm of my feelings.
That December, my boys who had attended the reflection service with me, started asking questions about their sibling who they had never met. Often times they would tell me that they miss her. It is amazing how the boys feel the loss, even though I lost the baby before any of them were born. I guess what bonds them together, is they shared the same womb. We believe that the baby I lost was a girl, who my husband and I named Lanay. My eldest asked me how old Lanay would be this Christmas if she had been born, and I quickly calculated her age. My second born son asked if we could buy Lanay her own Christmas ornament to hang on the tree. I told him, while holding back tears, that I thought that was a great idea.
My second born suggested that we put Lanay’s ornament on the tree, near the angel at the top. The reason being, that the angels are looking after her, until we can be together again in Heaven. I smiled and told him that was a great idea. I suggested that it might be a better idea if we put it lower, so we can see it better. He agreed that was a good idea. So we put Lanay’s ornament on the tree. What happened next I will never forget. My sons all grabbed their own personal ornaments, and hung them surrounding Lanay’s. All my children’s ornaments in one place on the tree. Perfect.
|photo by Jo Puggioni|
The following year, I came across an ornament of two crowns that said, “Like Mom, Like Daughter” on it. I hung it on the tree. When I look at it, it somehow makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because the ornament symbolises our bond as mother and daughter. And sad, because I have no idea if my daughter is like me or not.
When I feel overcome with grief and feel twinges of sadness, which often happens when I am shopping for Christmas presents, and I glance over and see the toys and clothes for girls. I allow myself a moment to feel the grief, not fight it. Often the boys will see the look of sadness on my face and ask “what’s wrong?”, and I will tell them that I miss Lanay. I do this so they see grief as a normal part of life. They hug me, and although they may not fully understand yet, acknowledge my grief.
For me, buying ornaments for Lanay is a way of including her as a family member. It is a way of remembering the pain of losing her, but it also gives me hope, and reminds me that I will see her one day again when we are reunited in Heaven. My nativity set was broken and incomplete and I went in search of a new one. As soon as I laid eyes on this nativity set, I knew it had to come home with me. It is a scene of children dressing up for a nativity play – 3 boys and 1 girl. I took it home and set it up on display. That was a year ago. Christmas came and went and I didn’t pack it away. It remains on my shelf permanently. It is a picture of what my family should look like but doesn’t, but one day will in Eternity.
|photo by Jo Puggioni|
It's so hard to be missing someone at the holidays . . . especially if that someone is a tiny baby miscarried too early, who you didn't know but very much wanted. I love Jo's idea of honoring Lanay's short life with ornaments on their family's Christmas tree. I do the same for Eve each year, just as I do it for our living son. How do you remember your gone-too-soon loved ones at the holidays? Or, how would you like to?
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Jo-Anne Puggioni (aka Jo Princess Warrior), has been married to her best friend for almost thirteen years. She home educates their three sons. A miscarriage survivor and depression navigator, she has come to embrace her imperfections, and is learning daily to live in the unforced rhythms of God's grace.