The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons can provide so much joy and warmth, filled with teasing family and gift exchanges. For some of you, though, this season will remind you of a terrible trial—and your deceased child.
Especially if you lost your child recently, you may be dreading the holidays. You might be hoping they’ll rush by without too many social parties and family events. Even if it’s been years, those dreadfully silent moments might let memories wash over you.
Of course, you don’t want to dwell on sad thoughts for too long throughout the holidays. But I’ve thought that I might like memories of my children in small doses.
Since I lost both of mine early, I can’t think of them apart from the loss. Still, I can think of them. As long as you know you can handle it, try a few ideas to add your child’s memory into the holidays. I came up with 5 subtle ways:
1.Light a candle.
I’ve always loved the gentle, dancing light of candles. People see lighting candles as calm, sentimental, and loving; so lighting them to remember a deceased child only makes sense.
You can light your favorite scent and let it burn all through your Thanksgiving meal. As you watch the little dancing flame, you can think of your child. For me, candles would represent my children’s presence, giving me comfort that they’re “with me” for the holiday.
2. Make a special treat.
If you’re going over to someone’s house for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you can make a special treat in honor of your child. At first, this one might sound strange. But if you’re like me, you’ve dreamed up a few holiday dishes that you’ve always wanted to make for your kids.
For a deceased child that had lived a little longer, you could cook their favorite meal. If you know your host well enough, you might even mention that this meal was your child’s favorite. You don’t have to, though. I just love the idea of bringing a piece of that child’s memory with me to my holiday feast.
3. Donate a meal to a needy family.
There’s something about charity that makes a loved one’s memory sweeter. I think we moms feel better when we help people in honor of our deceased child.
Keeping busy and attending to someone’s needs gets our idle hands and hearts moving and maybe even makes our children’s deaths a little more worth the pain. A little, at least.
4. Set out an extra place setting or chair.
Some of you should probably avoid this idea because it will constantly remind you of your loss during a holiday meal. Still, others may not have the strength to set the table with one less place setting.
I suggest that you only keep that place out if you know your guests well or if you’re having a quiet holiday with just your own family. Personally, I wouldn’t want to make my guests uncomfortable. Plus, this idea wouldn’t be quite as subtle as the others if you’re inviting a lot of people to your home.
5. Write a letter or card.
Sometimes, we just can’t muster up the strength to include our children’s memories directly into holiday events. Don’t force it. If you still want to do something, though, you could get up early in the morning to write your deceased child a Thanksgiving letter or Christmas card.
You’ll probably shed a few tears during this time, but it might help you keep your poise during the rest of the holiday. I love that you can write the letter anywhere, whether at home or whether visiting a family member. I do think that mornings work best to give you that emotional release, but you could write the letter at another time too.
No matter what you choose to do, or not do, remember to lean on God’s strength. Talk to a close friend or loved one if you’re feeling down. Never dismiss holiday blues because they can hit you hard.
And think of the sweet memories with your child, their cute smiles or their wiggles inside your belly. May God bring you peace and comfort for the holiday season.
What special ways do you honor your child’s memory during the holidays?
by Sarah George