Posts Tagged ‘stillbirth’

Getting Through The Holidays

As I begin this blog, I suppose I should state my traditional disclaimer. I have no clinical training. This is not meant to be a professional guide to holiday grief. This is a blog written by a mother who lost her child, in hopes of helping others to benefit from my experiences by reading about them, and finding ways to adapt them to their own needs, or by being inspired to find your own ways to nurture your own heart through a difficult time. Grief is a very personal thing. How you choose to handle it is up to you – just be sure that handle it, you must.
I read an article today, and it’s one of many about grieving at the holidays. As we all know, grief comes in many forms. Loss tops the list – death of a parent, spouse, grandparent, sibling, friend, or child. Death of a friend. Divorce. Each form of grief is its own animal, and each person handles it differently. As I have read articles over the years about grief at the holidays, they each have had their own “recipe” for how to make it through. The article I found today was, for me, the one that most closely mirrored what I needed in the early years of this journey, and still find myself needing at times still when the holidays roll around. The edge is off of the pain, most definitely. But there are moments when it creeps in just a little. Right now for some of you, it’s still a wide open, raw wound with no comfort in sight. So how do you get through this season when everything is about joy, festivity, and celebration? I would offer you some of what I did, in hopes that some of it might help you, or inspire you:

If You’d Let Me, I’d Smile

Originally written May, 2010

You’d think by now I’d know… seven years, countless other mothers I’ve walked through the process – literally hundreds of them. And yet, in spite of thinking earlier today “maybe it’ll be ok this year, I feel fine…” it crept in tonight.  Can’t even tell you how. I went to bed, my thoughts tumbled from one onto another, and somehow I ended up thinking about Ian.

Ian as a seven year old boy.

I pictured the early start of gangly long legs with some peach fuzz hair, warm fingers that interlaced with mine when I held his hand, soft warm skin, freckles on his nose, dusty brown hair, and the early traces of the annoyed “moooooo-mmmmmmm” that so many mothers hear for so many years.

I think that’s when the tears started. Realizing yet again that it’s all once more a vision … a “what if” … that would never be realized. I’ll never know if he’d have freckles, long legs, or that tone to his voice. Next week he’d be seven. And like every year that’s come before this one, I have no way to anticipate what he’d be like today. I’ll never know the moments that I missed. Which is why it’s so vitally important to me to celebrate every second that I had.

People avoid talking about a child who has died. Every mom I know who’s lived this loss has noted it. We all want to remember, society can’t bear the thought, or thinks they’ll do us harm by remembering. That’s so off base. It’s far from what we need. In fact, it’s the polar opposite.

What moms and dads like us need isn’t for them to give us their answer of what we “should” need… it’s to finally begin to approach this time of year with what we “do” need… to remember. To celebrate. To smile instead of cry. I am not asking ANYONE to remind me that he died – nobody ever needs to remind me of that. What I am asking, on June 3 of every year I am alive, isn’t to mourn his death, it’s to help me celebrate that he lived.

There’s a big difference.

I want to remember the little one who’s feet used to tap dance on my bladder.
I want to remember the little face that I fell in love with.
I want to remember every vision I had of his look, his voice, his life.
I want to celebrate how he changed me – I learned more about love from him than I ever knew.
I want to celebrate the faith that he taught me – I know Christ today because of him.
I want to celebrate how he touched so many lives – lives of women I’ve never met, but love dearly and will always do anything I can to help.
I want to celebrate the survivor he made me.
I want to celebrate the freckles, the laughing eyes, the easy smile that I know he’d have today.
I want to celebrate the belly laughs I know are waiting for us in heaven.
I want to celebrate that today, my dad and my son just might be playing catch, watching the Sox, talking about girls, or just paling around in heaven.
I want to celebrate that he gets to spend every second in a world where he’s always safe, always perfect, always healthy, away from violence or disease, and will always be blissfully happy.
I want to celebrate the beautiful boy that God gave me through the miracle of life.
I want to celebrate being a mom – I earned that right.
I want to celebrate the one creature on this planet who can make me smile, no matter how bad the day.

I want to celebrate the coolest little man that I know. And I earned that right. I wish you’d celebrate with me and not shy away, not avoid the phone, not shift awkwardly in your seat, not change the subject, pick your eyes up off the floor, not pretend you didn’t hear me.

Here’s the bottom line. I’m living this. It’s up to me to tell you what I need, not the other way around. And what I need isn’t to mourn his death … it’s to celebrate his life. It was tiny, it was all too brief, but it touched mine forever in ways that leave me too blessed to even describe.

I am Ian’s mom, and nobody is ever going to tell me that I shouldn’t celebrate that.

My son is my hero, and I am honored to be his mom.

I wish this time of year wasn’t so hard. But I’ll be honest with you — the most uplifting thing when the hard days come, the thing that lifts my soul and makes me smile from earth to heaven is when people let me be the mom that I am, and help me celebrate the most precious gift God ever gave me… my son. One day a year… just that one day.

Happy birthday, my son.

Hug him for me dad … and tell him when the day comes, I will do it myself. And he better not think he’s too grown up for a hug from his mom.

I love you, little man!