Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree

It’s a question every hurting heart has to answer if you celebrate a traditional western Christmas:  Will I put up a tree this year?


I had a few months of lonely travel through the Valley of the Shadow of Death before I had to answer that one.

Dominic left us at Easter, so by December I had learned that wishing didn’t make anything better nor did it make decisions disappear.

As Christmas drew near, I just could not bring down the usual decorations from the attic.

So I didn’t.

Instead of trying to work up the courage to dig through boxes and decide what I could or could not bear to see that first year, I bought a new, small tree and put it atop the table in the living room.

How do you arrange pieces of happy memories in a world where everything has changed? How do you touch bits of who you used to be when you have no idea who you are right now?

I decided that even if I didn’t put one other decoration on it, I would have the company of sparkling lights in the darkness of winter evenings.

The lights remind me that the night has limits.

Their tiny twinkling helps me remember that even a small bit of hope is enough to hold on to.


This is the ninth Christmas since Dominic ran ahead to heaven and it is just as hard as the first one. 

Each year there are additional challenges and additional heartaches on top of the giant one I carry every day.  I’ve found that these years since he left I don’t do well with a lot of the trappings surrounding Christmas.

But what my heart holds onto is the promise of Christmas:

That the Baby became the Man and the Man was Messiah.

I light the lights because they remind me that darkness has limits.

I declare by my defiant act of celebration in the midst of heartache that one day every hard thing, every sad thing and every broken thing will be redeemed and restored.

My prayer for all the hurting hearts this year is that God will make His love real to you in ways you neither expect nor could imagine.

May you find some symbol this season that speaks courage and gives you strength to endure. 

And may the promise of Christmas give you hope, even in the darkest night.  


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

16 thoughts on “Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree”

  1. I’m struggling hard to get through … it’s not only our first Christmas without my son, but Christmas Morning will also mark The date we lost him 😭. I keep trying and trying and I can break through this feel overwhelming sadness… Nothing is the same, Nothing means the same for me anymore … I am so broken and I’m trying to do this for my family and grandbabies but I can’t get pass it. I break at every attempt.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you for sharing this and to those who commented. This is my second Christmas without Gavin and I appreciate all the help you so generously share. God bless you, dear sisters.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. And, Christmas is still hard….13 years later….hang on, I want to say to you who are in that very very dark hard first, second, third… year….I still remember the extreme darkness, grayness, never ending tears the first year, and I honestly thought I just might die, too. I am still here, and want to say you will make it through, but it is so very tough…and I think it will be until we are reunited with our children when we also run ahead to heaven. Love and peace to all of you who share this journey in this advent and Christmas season.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This will be my second Christmas without my daughter Alanna. Last year I️ put up the tree, lights, and just 2 decorations one was a handmade angel she made in preschool with a picture of her as the face. It was always my favorite. The other another handmade snowflake made out of macaroni with glitter. No other ornaments.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Cindy, it is SO hard. Truly, the only way I could do it that first year was to frame it to my heart as an act of defiance. I pray that the Lord will give you strength and that He will flood your hurting heart with His grace, mercy and love. ❤


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: