living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

Death and Christmas

I’ve been thinking about this post again, I could write something similar and new, but it would just be regurgitation.  This is the first Christmas without my Babby, and while I likely feel the loss less than many in my family, I miss her.  There will be no cheery Christmas phone call this year.  It makes me very sad that we were here in Saskatchewan last year and didn’t go for Christmas.  Why?  We weren’t invited, I didn’t want to be imposing house guests, my Babby was worn out and my kids are BUSY.  There are a million excuses and none of them really answer the question, because they are all full of their own type of holes.  We can’t change the past.

As we live on the holidays will likely continue to have more people we miss.  That’s part of the inevitability of life, we all die.  Some before they should, some after a long life, some after injury, sickness or disease where death itself is a small mercy, but they all leave an emptiness behind.

I hope your Christmas is merry, and happy, ours this year promises to be.  Petra checks the calendar everyday and announces how many more days.  Elijah keeps telling us “Don’t forget to buy me a present”.  We have treasured family coming to visit, and there are presents a plenty for under the tree.  This year the girls are getting Princess American Girl type dolls.  Aurora for Tal, and Ariel for Petra (or maybe Tiana she keeps changing her mind, we have both for her, but one is going back), and there’s another Tiana doll in the closet for Kate.  Every year we buy something that we would have bought for her this Christmas and give it to charity.  It’s a nice way to include her in our buying, and it will make some little girl very happy, but the sorrow in thinking about the joy three princesses would have brought pokes through sometimes.   Still our kids have more than they need, and giving to a family with less is a great lesson for them, and that friends, is one more way Katie has blessed our family.

Merry Christmas to you!

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First Posted Dec 18th 2009

Katie’s Christmas Legacy

Seems a few people I know are experiencing grief in a big way this season, it’s the first holiday after the death of their loved one.  I wish there was some way for me to bear it for them, because it really is so hard.  The world is happy, full of mirth, joy, and thanksgiving.  People are down right jolly.  When the one you love isn’t here, the contrasting darkness of your life feels so bleak, and almost shameful.  People still ask “Are you having a good Christmas?”  “Has Santa been good to you?”  “Did you get what you want this year?”  And the answer to all these questions is no.  Yes, even in sadness and in the mist of grief there are moments of light and joy, but they are breaks in the darkness, not lasting light.  A good Christmas would be with all those we love, that they would be alive, and celebrating with us.  That first Christmas after death  can be downright awkward.  Stuff your feelings, pretend to be happy, so you don’t bring others down.  Perhaps what those of us who can feel the joy in the season should be doing is lifting others up, not in a “Come onnn, cheer up!!” sort of way, but in an understanding ” I know this must be hard for you, but I love you” sort of way

This is our fifth Christmas without Katie, and still it’s hard.  Yesterday she was on my mind in a big way.  It’s not the same debilitating I can’t get off the couch, or why don’t we have more Kleenex sort of day anymore.  Having other kids now helps tremendously, they make you find joy.  But there was an emptiness in our house yesterday that doesn’t usually permeate the forefront of my thought.  I think knowing that the Christmas service in Edmonton for parents who have lost a baby was yesterday, didn’t help.  I had hoped that in being close I would make it there this year.  It really is a nice way to remember, how much is lost to some parents each year.  Kyle has been witting his exam, counseling students, and attending meetings about some ridiculous work bureaucracy, plus we had just made a trip to Edmonton last week, and therefore we just couldn’t swing it.

Witnessing, or knowing about new grief among my friends this season is hard.  It gets better, but constantly being told that that future is what we should hold on to, sucks, because the right now is miserable.  I think you have a right to be miserable if you need to, a big hole has been ripped open in your life, and pretending it’s not there does nothing to help repair it.  I wish I could find the quote, but I once read a quote that said essentially this.  God could mend your heart quickly with large lose stitches, but it would just tear open again, so instead He works slowly with small tight stitches, it hurts more and takes longer, but when He is finished it is lasting work.  You’ll always bear a scar, but your heart will hold love, hope and joy again.

So my friends, Lauren and Rob, Janine, and Jenn, and those of you who have lost someone you love this year, go ahead and have a hard Christmas, be lonely for the ones you love, cherish the breaks of light and feel joy where you can, but be true to how you feel, so that your stitches may be lasting too.  This scared heart is praying for you, and perhaps part of Katie’s legacy is understanding that sometimes you just need to grieve.

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Comments on: "Death and Christmas" (8)

  1. This will be our second Christmas without Peggy. I was reflecting at Thanksgiving how it seems a little more normal at each holiday dinner to not have her there, which makes it so much worse in a way.

    Hugs and love to you guys as you remember your losses this Christmas.

  2. While I do not have anyone that has passed away this year I do have a lot of family that are not around this year because they have moved away to BC and even though I saw my parents early December for Christmas it still leaves an empty hole in my heart because I love the Christmas Season because Family means so much. While I sit here with tears in my eyes as I write this nothing really compares to missing a loved family member due to death and i have to be happy I’ve not experienced it yet. I don’t know how that will pan out in the coming years and I hope its a long ways away.

    My heart goes out to you and all those reading this who have lost a loved one this year or in years past.

    Merry Christmas to you guys, love you lots!
    Shaun

  3. What a great way to include Katie in Anderson Christmas. I might borrow your idea of donating a gift in a loved one’s honour. Very smart. 🙂

    It’s amazing, you know. It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to think of how many times we’ve decorated my parents’ Christmas tree without my brother Ryan. It’s been nine years. Wow. And we still hang the baked clay ornaments the three of us kids made in kindergarten. Their arms and ears have been glued and re-glued countless times, of course. There are… and always will be… three clay ornaments on that tree.

    We still re-gift parts of Ryan’s life to each other at Christmas. This year Kyler, my 27 year old brother, included on his wishlist a refurbished golf club of Ryan’s. Last year, he asked for a watch and got Ryan’s old one. And Ryan’s sweaters are the only reason I want to learn how to quilt.

    We do all these things to remember him at Christmas time… and anytime. But rarely do we talk about him. Sharing stories about my brother is bitter sweet. I prefer to do so in small doses and with a select few people. But of course, sometimes it’s the unsaid stuff that means the most.

    And there is something profoundly fabulous about missing someone just as much as everyone else in the room. We don’t have to say anything to know what … or who… is on everyone’s mind. We just know. And that knowledge is the only thing in the world that can console us.

    Thank you for your post, Erron. You write from your heart. And today, you inspired me to write from mine. Merry Christmas!

    • Dearest Kim

      I didn’t know you are missing a brother. I am sorry you have someone missing from your life. You’re right, there is something profoundly fabulous about being with people who are longing for someone as much as you. It’s why I find that being around other moms who have lost a baby easy. We get each other, whether we’re talking about it, or we aren’t talking about it, but are just together. I can’t even express how much I love how you gift Ryan to each other. It’s beautiful. I know a sweet quilter if you ever wanted to come out for a week and learn. Her blog is in my blog roll – My Sweet Prairie. Grief is an interesting experience, we all do it differently, I think small doses is fine, especially, if you can be around people where the unsaid is still full of acknowledgment. I am always happy to listen to Ryan’s story should you ever need an ear to listen to a small dose, or not 🙂

  4. As many know I rarely open up about myself and my family. Im often very reserved with a crowd. This is the first Christmas without my Grandma she passed away in June and this will be my 24th Christmas without my brother Jason. We dont often talk about him in my family, its still really hard on my parents especially around the holidays. Since Ive left home and started a family, we have started giving the kids things that were Jason’s. Luke has his superman watch, Morgan has his stuffed monkey. Little things that I remember from childhood that make me smile. This year is especially difficult as my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and just had a mastectomy on the 3rd of December. I started a new tradition of giving to cancer society and santas anonymous in the name of Jason and my Grandma. Although they are gone they are never forgotten and their life is celebrated in quiet special ways. Im sorry for everyones loss and hope that you all find a measure of peace and solitude and joy during the season.
    Happy Holidays Merry Christmas

    • Lorry I think about Jason quite often. You’re parents were good to us when Katie died, and you and I have spoken a couple of times about your brother. I know very little of him, but of what I do know, I think of him and what a huge hole he must have left. You and Kim may like to keep things quieter and I respect that, but I am a talker, a yaker actually. I need to talk it all out. I tell the same stories over and over. : ) So while you may not be talking about Jason, you know now, that one more person is thinking about him with you.

      I’m sorry about your grandmother, and the struggle your mom is going through. Sending you big heaping potions of strength and love and healing and prayer and…um…whatever else you may need.

  5. This is our second Christmas without Julie, and the first with Ben, which is the very definition of bittersweet. I cried a bit while decorating, because while there is finally a child’s stocking on our mantel, there should be two. Or would there be really? Would we have had Ben if Julie had lived? You could go crazy thinking about it. We buy an angel of some sort every year in her honor.
    I feel your pain about your babby, too. I have three grandparents left, but the one who is gone, my dad’s mom, was the one I was super close to. She died when I was in university, and it still hurts, especially at Christmas. I make all of the little goodies that she used to bake at Christmastime in her memory, and that too, is bittersweet.
    Big hugs to you.

  6. I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this post but it brings out so much emotion in me, it is all so, so true. Reading it reminds me how glad I am that the holidays are over and we made it through one more year. Every year I make it through for my living children as i’m sure you do but it will never be what it once was.

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