Christmas 2022: Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree


I confess that I am already exhausted and we are barely into December!

But I managed to drag the tree down from the attic and adorned it with the faith fortifying ornaments I’ve acquired since Dominic left us seven plus years ago.

I didn’t finish making things sparkle but I did make a dent in it.

Tomorrow is another day but tonight I will sit and savor the twinkling lights that remind me darkness doesn’t win. 

❤ Melanie

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?

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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.

Read the rest here: Why I Still Put Up a Christmas Tree

Christmas 2022: How To Survive December With a Broken Heart

It comes up again and again-and not just for the parents facing their year of “firsts”:  How do I survive December with a broken heart?

There’s no single answer or list of things to do that will suit every family.

But there are some general principles that can make even this awful reality a little easier

Read the rest here: How To Survive December With a Broken Heart

Christmas 2022: Nine Years. Sigh…

When I was a little girl I never thought about how the holidays impacted the adults around me. I figured it was all about ME. Or at most, me plus my brother and Santa Claus.

I was blissfully unaware of budgets and baggage.

Now I know better.

The holidays require us to wrap more than presents. They force us to wrap all the pain and expectation and hope and heartache in a giant package and serve it up hot and ripe for dissension and disappointment.

It’s relatively easy to figure out what to put under the tree (or give for the nights of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa). It’s much harder to figure out what to bring to the dinner table or the family gathering or the we’re-doing-something-different-this-year NON-gathering.

I’ve written a lot about the holidays in previous years and I will be sharing those posts again because there is always someone who hasn’t read them or who is just now in need of them. But I wanted to add something to the canon this year-on the ninth set of holidays with one child in Heaven.

It’s not easier just because I’ve had practice.

We have yet to settle into a system that makes space for all the feelings and changes that time brings to lives and loves and hearts and homes.

I’m just as jealous TODAY of whole families as I was the first Christmas without Dominic. I’m just as likely to sit for hours wondering what, exactly, I should cart down from the attic, what I should set up in the living room, how I should honor him without making him a “saint” and when tears are appropriate or distracting and indulgent.

I don’t want to discourage anyone.

I have developed many more coping skills and ways to make it through the season than I had that first awful Christmas when every song, every memory, every EVERYTHING stung like driving snow on frozen faces.

I’m just being honest which is the first and most important commitment I made when I started sharing in this space. And I don’t want any heart who still struggles to think he or she is unusual or defective or weak or “less than” the hearts that declare unmitigated victory over grief and sorrow.

Life is life.

It’s not less treacherous because I’ve developed bigger emotional biceps as a result of child loss.

There is, in fact, a greater gap between what I expect from myself and what I find I’m able to give.

But I keep trying.

I’ll buy the presents, deck the halls, make the meals and cherish every moment I’m with the ones I love.

Because I’m oh, so aware that this Christmas may be the LAST Christmas.

A beautiful and terrible burden to bear.

Christmas and Grief: Surviving Siblings

Life is complicated, isn’t it?

Even if I could erase loss from our family’s story, we’d still be muddling through the holidays trying to meet needs, expectations and holiday hopes all while juggling schedules and unwanted surprises.

Add child loss and sibling loss to the mix and there’s potential for a real mess!

So one of the things I’ve learned on this journey is I have to ask-and ask again-what my surviving children want and need for the holidays.

And then I have to LISTEN well.

We certainly haven’t managed holidays since Dom left us with grace and aplomb. In fact, some have been downright awful.

But we are still trying to make space and give grace so they are less stressful and more joy-filled.

❤ Melanie

I have never wanted to make my life journey with blinders on.  I realized young that MY perspective is not the only one.  I understand that more clearly now. 

So I try hard to think about, acknowledge and accommodate the feelings and needs of others.

But it’s especially challenging since Dominic left us.  And doubly so this time of year when every sight, smell and song screams, “It’s the holidays and HE IS NOT HERE!

I may not be as thoughtful to some in my circle as want to be, but I will expend every ounce of energy and effort I can muster to make space for my living children’s needs during this season.  

Read the rest here: Holidays and Grief: Surviving Siblings

 

Headed Toward Home

If I find in myself a desire for which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.C. S. Lewis

I remember the first time I felt homesick.  

I had been away from home before but never without the company of someone I knew well and loved.  

This time was different-I was at a sleepover camp populated with strangers.  Kind strangers, yes, but not a familiar face among the crowd.  

Read the rest here: Homesick

There’s A Lovely Moment When the Light Makes it Through Again

A few years ago, I had a grace-filled, heartwarming visit with another bereaved mama who came all the way from Maine just to hang out with me. And that was so, so good.

As she and I shared over coffee and tea, shopping and meals, lounging and walking we found so many ways in which our journeys have been similar even though the details are really very different.

One is this: There was a distinct moment along the way when each of us began to see light and color again in the midst of our darkness and pain and it was a turning point.

Read the rest here: There’s A Moment When The Light Makes It Through Again

What Good Can Come of This?

I’ve thought often of what good, if any, can come from child loss.  

I do not think for one minute that God “took” my son to teach me a lesson or to mold me in some way.  

But I do believe with my whole heart that God can USE this circumstance to conform me more closely to the image of Christ Jesus. 

Read the rest here: Hidden Manna

Listening is Love in Action

Listening is love in action.

If you know someone whose heart carries great grief-and child loss is not the only hard journey hearts are makingoffer to listen. 

Give up a few minutes to hear how they are really doing, what is really hard, what they really need to say but may be afraid to speak aloud.  Leave spaces in conversation so a heart can work up the courage to share.  Don’t be quick to offer platitudes that shut down deep discussion.  

It often takes many, many repetitions of traumatic events for a heart to begin to heal. 

Read the rest here: Why I Have To Talk It Out

Sometimes the Grief Comes Crashing Down- Post Holiday Blues

It’s a paradox really-that grieving hearts can be more anxious and more sorrowful BEFORE and AFTER a milestone day, birthday or holiday than on the day itself.

That’s not true for everyone, but it’s a frequent comment in our closed bereaved parent groups.

Read the rest here: Post Holiday Blues: When The Grief Comes Crashing Down

Breathing Out, Breathing In: Lament and Thanksgiving

When I first began writing in this space, “lament” had only just come into vogue.

Now, it’s everywhere.

If the past couple years have taught hearts a single thing, I hope it is there’s no use pretending life doesn’t hurt sometimes. We were not created to carry that kind of pain alone.

And thankfully, we don’t have to.

God, in Christ, invites me to speak it, to sing it, to release it as an exhale so His grace and strength can rush in to fill that empty space.

You’re invited too.

❤ Melanie

Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday.

I loved everything about it,

Read the rest here: The Power of Lament to Make Room for Thanksgiving

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