Grief at the holidays is hard. It's difficult to feel like celebrating anything when you're missing someone you love. This morning, I cried in church, longing for the baby I should be holding this Christmas and for her big sister too.
I think one of the most difficult parts of grieving at Christmas is the feeling that sadness doesn't belong, that others only want to think jolly, happy thoughts, that no one want to be bothered with the gaping hole in your heart.
This will be my fourth Christmas as a grieving mother, and over the years, I've been blessed by friends and family who've entered into my grief with special gifts that both acknowledged my pain and celebrated the lives of the daughters we miss.
I share some of those gifts with you below (as well as a few favorites I've discovered on my own) - in case you are looking for ways to bless a family grieving this Christmas. Some of the gifts below are specific to my own experience of grief - miscarriage and stillbirth - but many of them would be appropriate for other types of loss as well.
Gifts for Grieving Families:
- Charitable donation - I will never forget how on my first Christmas as a grieving mother, some dear friends made a donation to World Vision in honor of our Avaleen. Any charitable donation in honor of a loved one would be meaningful, but I like the idea of choosing an item from a charity gift catalog that is related in some way to the family's loss. For example, World Vision's gift catalog includes a New Mother and Baby Kit and Maternal and Child Health Care gift.
- Ornament - Last year I ordered an ornament for myself and a friend from this Etsy shop. I also like this lovely ornament from Laurel Box (which offers many beautiful gifts for the grieving) and this one from Luminous Light Studio.
Gifts for Grieving Kids:
- Voyage to the Star Kingdom - we recently added this book to our family library, and it's absolutely beautiful. Inspired by the real-life story of a family facing the early death of two daughters, the book does an excellent job of portraying God's nearness to us in hard times and the beauty of heaven.
- Emily Lost Someone She Loved - we don't actually own this book, but a good friend lent it to us when Lily died. It's about a little girl who loses her mother and the way her grief often comes out in anger. I appreciated its honest portrayal of grief as well as the way it points to Jesus as a source of hope.
Gifts for Grieving Parents:
- Bereavement jewelry - I've been given several beautiful necklaces in memory of my girls (this nest necklace and this necklace with one ring for each of my daughters). I've also received these lovely teardrop earrings and ordered a "keeper" bracelet for myself and my living daughters with the initials of all four girls. I love wearing these pieces and remembering my girls as I do.
- Framed print - I own this print of one of my favorite grief verses, but there are many lovely ones both at Bottle of Tears and at Luminous Light Studio as well as on this Etsy shop.
- Far as the Curse Is Found - And finally, I'll mention my own book, which I continue to hope will be a gift to many women and men like me - who've struggled with infertility, miscarriage, and/or stillbirth. The book tells my own story as well as the stories of 11 other families who've struggled with reproductive loss. It explores how God shows up in these places, how in the words of the familiar Christmas carol, "He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found."
A final gift you can give your grieving friends and family this Christmas is your words. Don't be afraid to tell them you are thinking of them and praying for them. Don't be afraid to speak the name of the person they are missing. Don't be afraid to write them a note and let them know they are on your heart. Your willingness to enter into their pain and to pray with them through it is perhaps the most important gift you can offer.