"As most parents are excitedly running around shopping for last minute gifts and preparing for Santa’s imminent arrival there are others that are barely keeping themselves together."
For some of us, Christmas this year will be bittersweet.
As most parents are excitedly running around shopping for last minute gifts and preparing for Santa’s imminent arrival there are others that are barely keeping themselves together as we face a Christmas that is very different from the one we envisioned at the beginning of the year.
It’s a statistic we hear about often – 1 in 4
One in four women will lose a child during pregnancy.
That’s one in four families who face Christmas each year without a much longed for and loved child. As the festive season approaches these families are dealing with the fact there is one less child opening a Santa sack, one less seat at the Christmas lunch table, and one present that will forever remain unopened.
This year our family is the one in four
In October this year, our family said goodbye to our daughter and sister. A baby girl we lost to anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect.
Don't clip your child's wings. Your toddler's mission in life is to gain independence. So when she's developmentally capable of putting her toys away, clearing her plate from the table, and dressing herself, let her. Giving a child responsibility is good for her self-esteem (and your sanity!).
Just as we started to move out of the cloud that surrounds such a loss, we were forced to move into the festivities that come with this time of year.
After talking to others who have also been through the loss of a baby it became clear that many of us wanted a way to honour our lost babies at Christmas time.
While they may not be here with us physically anymore there are few things we can do, for ourselves, their siblings and our extended families, that can help keep their memory alive and make the festive season a little bit easier to bear.
Purchase a star
A couple of weeks ago some friends of mine gave me what is quite possibly the most thoughtful gift ever. A star for my baby girl. The star certificate has her star’s coordinates and a beautiful quote “When it rains look for rainbows when it’s dark look for your star.”
A simple gesture that meant so much.
Write them a Christmas card
We write Christmas cards to family and friends every year. Why not write one to your child? Tell them about your year and how much you wished they could have been here at Christmas time with the family. While, of course, they can’t read it, it can be cathartic to get your thoughts and hopes down on paper as part of a much loved festive tradition.
Talk about the risks associated with meeting online “friends” in person. Adults should understand that the internet can be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other young people and make new friends. However, for safety and to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important that children do not meet strangers they have met online without being accompanied by an adult you trust. In any case, the child should always have their parents’approval first. In addition, it is also a good idea to have a fail-safe plan in place such as calling them shortly after the meeting begins so that they can bail out if they feel uncomfortable.
A personalised ornament
There are so many styles of personalized ornaments these days that you have a choice of angel ornaments, photos ornaments or personalised ornaments with your child’s name. Have a look around for one that you feel fits your family and your angel and proudly hang their ornament each year on the tree.
Just because they aren’t there to open presents doesn’t mean you can’t hang a stocking for them. It’s also a lovely gesture to help siblings understand that while a baby may not be here with us now they were very much part of our family, no matter how short the period they spent with us.
A simple teddy bear. After no doubt many tears, something to cuddle can be a lovely comfort. You can find bears with dates embroidered or maybe even embroider the baby’s name on them to give it a more personalised touch. This is another great option to include siblings in the process of celebrating their sibling who is no longer here.
Photo frame with a quote
Find a quote about loss or love or family and frame it. You can keep the frame up all year or you can bring it out especially for Christmas each year as a way to remember your baby.
You can purchase jewellery whether for yourself or as a memento to keep for your baby. There is a range of beautiful angel/winged necklaces that you can personalise. Maybe consider a charm bracelet that you can add to each Christmas with a new charm in your baby’s memory.
After we lost Victoria I became aware of a number of charities with support services that were available to parents’ and families who had lost children. These support services cannot continue without ongoing donations from the public. Give a donation in your baby’s name and know that you will help another family with their loss.