Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas is hard

Let's face it - Christmas is just plain hard when you have lost a baby, or when you are unsuccessfully trying to have one.  All of the elements are there to push your buttons - pictures of children everywhere, pictures of families (usually with two or more kids), stories for children, Christmas pageants featuring children, memories of childhood traditions that you wanted to share with your children in heaven.  Plus the Christmas story itself - two miraculous pregnancies, an infertile older couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth) given the child of their dreams, a pregnant teenager (Mary), a birth, a baby --  it's hard to get through Christmas when you're jealous of Mary!

I was glad, then, to read what a friend posted on the Hannah's Prayer forums that I belong to.  She had received a Stepping Stones newsletter in the mail and posted an article about Christmas.

Here is a portion of what blessed me:
Rather than focusing on toddlers kneeling in wonder before the manger, let me focus on the birth of our Lord and kneel in wonder at His feet.

Instead of the ache of my empty arms, let me feel the magnetism and strength of His open arms as He says, "Come until me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest."

When I see pictures of the baby Jesus, broaden my thinking beyond the maternal desire to feel the soft skin of that baby's tiny hands, and enable me to feel the nail prints in the rugged palms of my Savior.
They also have some suggestions in "Christmas: Keeping the Holiday Without Getting Hurt."  Here is one that I found helpful as a parent of babies in heaven.
Recognize and accept your feelings of loss and grief over what might have been.  These are legitimate emotions...This may be a good time to commite yourself to the Twenty Minute Rule.  When you feel sad, discouraged, or angry, allow yourself to deal with it for 20 minutes - but no more.  Cry...share your frustration with your spouse, or call a friend...
If your loss is fresh, I don't think you need to stick to the "Twenty Minute Rule"...but the idea is sound.  Know that your feelings are legitimate, and they tend to be sharper at the holidays.  But God can also use the holidays to encourage our hearts and comfort us.  Give yourself permission to continue grieving, but also look for ways to enjoy (not just endure) the season, even if it's not in the traditional ways.

Click here to read the entire publication.  These portions were reprinted by permission from Stepping Stones, a newsletter for infertile couples published by Bethany Christian Services. For more information go to http://www.ssministry.net/

May the remainder of this advent season not be a time of dread, but of peace and yes, even joy.

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