My Christmas tree this year is sad. I put it up, but there aren’t any ornaments on it. Only one string of lights works, so only 1/3 of the tree lights up. Really sad. I don’t really have any motivation to fix it. The rest of my house is decorated, inside and out, but the tree stands in the corner looking sad. I was thinking about why I am apathetic towards the tree this year, and I have come to the conclusion it’s a grief thing. A few weeks ago in anticipation of Christmas we bought Christmas ornaments. Each of our kids have gotten at least one ornament, usually while we are expecting them or shortly after their birth, to add to our Christmas tree. We usually buy them while we are on our family beach trip during the summer at the Christmas shop there. This past summer I was 6 weeks pregnant with Andrew. We were in the Christmas shop and looked at lots of different ornaments for him. We decided to wait to buy one until after we found out if he was a boy or a girl. As you can imagine the ornament never got purchased. So, a few weeks ago I bought him one. I also bought one for my other two babies I lost in miscarriage years ago. I had never bought ornaments for them or really done anything in their memory. As Glenn and I shopped for these ornaments, we sobbed. It was very difficult to choose an ornament for each child that represented them when we have never actually met them. It was sad but also very healing for us I think. But I can’t bring myself to put the ornaments, or any ornaments on the tree this year. I have decided that’s okay. I am not going to force myself to do something that I am not ready to do. Maybe between now and Christmas I will do it, but if you visit me at Christmas and see an tree with nothing on it you will know why.
I have learned two things about this that I want to share. One, is I have learned that we cannot take time for granted. The time we have with our loved one is precious, whether that is a loved one on this earth or one that was expected but never born. Glenn and I regret having not bought Andrew the ornament this summer while he was with us. Obviously I cannot change that now, but if we ever are pregnant again, I will do it differently. I will celebrate that child every day we are expecting him or her. Each day is precious and I don’t take that for granted now.
Secondly, when you loose a loved one, no matter how short their life, it is important to do things to remember that person. As I said earlier, I never did anything to remember my two babies I lost years ago. But with Andrew we have a memory box of things for him. We have ultrasound pictures and pictures of us holding him after his birth. We have outfits he wore and little hats and booties. We have cards people sent to us after his birth. And we have displayed in our house a plaque of his footprints with his name and birth date on it. And also a willow tree figurine that was given to us after his birth. Those things are so precious to us. I also have two necklaces that were given to me to remember him. Those things I treasure and they have helped me so much. Giving remembrance and respect to his memory has done wonders for my own healing. I still have one last big thing I want to do, which is to get a stone with his name and birth date for his grave. It’s just not something we have brought ourselves to do yet, but we will when we are ready. We also want to pretty up the area where he is buried. I will confess I can’t bring myself to go over there much right now, but I know in time I will. If you have lost a loved one, especially a baby, I highly recommend doing something to memorialize that person. Do whatever you feel is best for you. This token of memory is for you, and no one else. It will not be easy, but I promise you won’t regret doing it.