Over the holiday season my heart is more tender and bruised as it mingles with the joy and merriment of the season. It’s necessary for me to stop and pause to remember my daughter. I find that forcing others to remember my daughter never really works out. It usually happens naturally. But there are a few things I like to do to include her in the holiday season.
This is our second Christmas without our three year old daughter and I’m learning how to honour her and also give my own heart time to grieve.
1. At special family gatherings I often bring a beautifully framed photo of Florence to set on the table with us. I like to light a candle in front of it. It’s a subtle, lovely way to bring her presence to the table.
2. On our first Christmas morning without our daughter, my husband and I found ourselves in tears as we watched our young son’s eyes fill with glee. We didn’t quite know how to respond to our naked grief and his joy, so our hearts were heavy that morning. This year, I know we may wake up tender, so I plan to make time to light a candle for Florence and listen to a song that reminds us of her. I’ve found that making space for tears and grieving on a big day helps us to have a healthier, more restful day.
3. Florence has her own stocking. I had new ones made for all of us last year and included a new one for Florence. This year I will stuff her white stocking with flowers, probably some velvety red roses on Christmas Eve. That way I’m not buying her something that will be donated or put in a box. I’m simply letting the fragrance of her memory fill our home. You could also try dried flowers, like baby’s breath, holly or pussy willows, if you wanted to start in early December. Or try hunting down your little one’s birth flower, and using those blooms.
4. I like to buy an ornament every year that reminds me of Florence. Perhaps one day we may have a special little tree that’s just for Florence, but for now I like mixing our memories with her presence. Laurelbox makes some lovely memorial ornaments for the holidays. One of my favourites is pictured below, on the left. You could also make your own with a photo of your child or find your child’s first initial at a number of stores.
5. On Christmas Eve, I like to spend some time alone, when the house is calm and dark and sing a Christmas carol to Florence. Silent Night is my favourite lullaby to her. I also love Wintersong by Sarah Mclachlan and usually end up a weepy, sobbing mess after I sing this or listen to it.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sit in the quiet and wish your loved one a Merry Christmas. But this is always the most precious time to me, as I surrender to the longing and the sting of loss. I find an inner strength when I honour her, and a year and a half into our deep grief, I can now smile through my tears, because it feels to very good to think about her.
How your body felt beside me
When silence gets too hard to handle
And the night too longOh I miss you now, my love
Merry Christmas, merry Christmas,
Merry Christmas, my loveSense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and I see
Your star up thereAnd this is how I see you
In the snow on Christmas morning
Love and happiness surround you
As you throw your arms up to the sky
I keep this moment by and by