It’s common this time of year to over schedule ourselves between work events, parties with friends, and family gatherings. I absolutely love Christmas, learning about different traditions, starting new traditions as a family, the yummy food, all while celebrating our Saviour’s birth. Before opening her advent gift each day, I read the story of Jesus’ birth to my daughter. Since she’s heard the story for one week now, I’ve started to ask her questions:
Me: Where was Jesus born?
3yo: In a manger with the animals. (She got me there, I was going for Bethleham.)
Me: What gifts did the wise men bring Jesus?
3yo: Gold, Frankenstein and muuuuuuuurrr. (We’ve got 16 more days to work on this one.)
Last year was the most difficult Christmas I’ve ever had to experience. I had miscarried three months prior. My world was dark. I was learning how to live with loss, trying to dig myself out of depression, navigating through a marriage drowned in grief while the world around me was celebrating and cheerful.
I coped the only way I knew how, by being fake. I convinced myself that friends, family, and co-workers were better off if I pretended to be the person they were to used seeing. I convinced myself that I’d be better off pretending to be the me that I was used to being. It failed horribly, not because I didn’t pull it off, I’m sure I fooled everyone around me, except for myself, and that was the most painful part. I’d hold it together long enough to attend a Christmas celebration and come home and fall apart. It’s hard work not being true to yourself!
It was hard having to answer questions and comments, especially from people who knew of our loss. It really made me realize that losing a child can be a lonely road. It’s a heartbreak that is often misunderstood.
“How come you feel like that?”
“It’s Christmas, just be happy, you have so many blessings in your life.”
I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year, and I’m still learning because grief is ever changing. I’m learning not to pretend for the sake of other people, because no one is worth purposely breaking myself for. The recovery is too great. I’m learning it’s okay to say “no,” though it’s still foreign and sometimes makes for awkward conversations.
This Christmas, the season of hustle and bustle, I find myself seeking the still, calm, and peace that is also associated with this time of year. There are norms that I won’t be participating in because in the midst of grief, new norms are discovered. This time of year remains difficult with family gatherings. As a mama I want to cuddle all my babies up in my lap and share the miracle of Christmas. I hold one babe in my lap, one in my womb, and long to hold two who are up in heaven.
As we grow closer to December 25, I am trying to grow in my truth and release the social norms that I’ve played into all my life. I particularly pray for a release of guilt. The guilt I feel for saying no to others, the guilt for wanting to be away from celebrations, the guilt for wanting a silent Christmas.
“And so I am tending to my heart gently because I have decided I cannot be what the world wants me to be… ‘Why?” she asked quietly. Because finally, I just want to be me” – S.C. Lourie.
Grief changes you, losing a loved one changes you, losing a child changes you – forever. Know that I am praying for you if you are separated from your children this Christmas. I pray for a release of having to pretend for the sake of others, that you can be authentic with friends, family and most importantly yourself. Sometimes Christmases are quiet and broken. I pray for broken hearts and broken dreams. May any grieving mama or papa reading these words find stillness and peace because we could all use a silent night.
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