By: Amy Lied
I think it’s safe to say that the Christmas season is a favorite among a large number of people. Christmas music is playing the day after Halloween. Social media is flooded with decorated trees only a few days after that. Songs proclaim that it’s the “most wonderful time of the year”.
But for a bereaved parent, this time of year has the potential to be filled with grief.
Reminders of the ones who are always missing are everywhere; cue the photos with Santa, cue the perfectly coordinated family holiday cards, cue photos of the stockings all hung by the chimneys with care, cue the various ornaments to mark major life events over the years, cue all the holly jolly family time. All of it is a reminder of the things our children will never be able to physically experience with us.
That first Christmas without Asher was incredibly hard. Only a year prior, I was pregnant with him, envisioning his first Christmas with us.
Instead, my arms were empty and I was in the midst of fertility treatment, desperately trying to give Asher a living sibling only 9 months after giving birth to him.
My husband and I did our best to include Asher in the holiday festivities. His photo was taken with Santa and he appeared on our holiday card. His stocking hung on the mantle next to ours and the tree was covered with ornaments for him. On Christmas Eve, our typical “before church” family photo was taken with his bear to represent his place in our family.
It wasn’t how Christmas was supposed to be but including him in all the stereotypical holiday experiences helped us cope with his absence.
(Photo courtesy of Danielle Danver Photography … https://www.danielledanverphotography.com/)
The following year we were finally able to have the “baby’s first Christmas”, that we should’ve had the year before, with Asher’s twin sisters (who were conceived via the fertility treatment we did the Christmas before). We continued including Asher with all of our holiday traditions. When I took the girls to get their photo taken with Santa, I brought a photo of Asher to be in the picture too. Asher Bear was included in our family photo on our Christmas card. Our daughters’ stockings coordinated with Asher’s and hung next to his on the mantle. When I bought an ornament for my daughters, Asher got one too. Our traditional Christmas Eve “before church” photo shows a family of 5 with my husband holding Asher’s picture. He was included in everything we did as a family.
The devastating truth is that our babies will continually be physically missing.
The grief over that fact is always there, but the holidays have a way of amplifying their absence with the increased emphasis on spending time with family. Seeing photos of “complete” families, knowing that ours will never be, is gut-wrenching. The only way I could combat the intensified grief of missing my child, was by including him in everything holiday related. Over the past two years, we’ve firmly established family traditions that will always involve Asher. He may not physically be with us but Asher will always be a part of our family.
Including him in our celebration of the “most wonderful time of the year,” helps to make it a little less grief-filled.
About Amy Lied
Amy Lied is a wife and a mother. Her son, Asher, was inexplicably born still on February 19th, 2017. Before losing Asher, she suffered a miscarriage and struggled with unexplained infertility. After losing Asher and struggling to conceive again, she went back to treatment where she became pregnant with her twin daughters; Harper and Scarlett. She has documented her journey from the beginning of her infertility struggles on her blog, Doggie Bags Not Diaper Bags. She is also a co-founder of The Lucky Anchor Project, an online resource for loss families that houses an Etsy store whose profits are donated to loss family non-profit organizations. Sharing her journey has helped her cope and she hopes it also helps others who are walking on this road of life after loss.