I could not bear to put a tree up for the first 4 Christmas's after her death. Last year a friend made a suggestion, since she knew that I was going to have to force myself to put one up. She said since the death of her daughter, every year she buys a new ornament and has it engraved for Niki, and she puts the year on each one in remembrance of her. I found that the ornaments could be bought at Walmart or Target, and the cost was in getting it engraved. But it did help. I had one done for each year since she died. Renee said it gives her a reason each year to do the tree because she looks forward to getting a new ornament for Niki. I found it did give me some satisfaction in doing this in remembrance of Cara. I was pleased and surprised that my sons and husband also greatly enjoyed having them on the tree and took the time to go an examine each one. Maybe this Christmas, this suggestion could help other families facing putting up that dreaded Christmas tree. Netta
Leaving town? Mitz, in PA, was concerned with the possibility of a house fire or another disaster when she went on vacation. Her biggest worry was that she could possibly lose the last possessions and physical memories of her son Andy. She suggests packing some of this up and storing it with a friend while gone. We all know how valuable this memorabilia becomes.
Which brings us to taking a vacation at Christmastime. If your child went to heaven near the holidays, then we know that first Christmas was the worst ever, or you didn't even notice it, except maybe to get angry at others' joy. I completely skipped Christmas the first year, and Darren died in August. I couldn't go into a store because I couldn't buy Darren a present. I bought no presents, sent no cards and of course had no decorations. Instead I went to visit a friend across the country who was going to have a miserable Christmas because she couldn't get home to her family. We didn't do Christmas, together. It is especially easy to leave when you have lost your only child and/or you have no extended family near. Some parents have made a new tradition of leaving for the holidays each year. The hole in the stocking is too big for Santa to fill so why try to fix it, get a new stocking (a new tradition). DO YOU HAVE NEW TRADITIONS IN YOUR FAMILY? PLEASE EMAIL THEM TO ME FOR THIS PAGE
I am always surprised to read other bereaved parents words, surprised at how others feel and think the same way that I do. I still often feel like I'm the only one. We have found it easiest to make new traditions in our house at Christmastime since Kali died. This is our third Christmas without her. Our season begins with bringing a tree to the cemetery for her, then it's shopping to buy toys to put under the sharing tree at the mall. I stick in a card that says that the toys are donated in memory of Kali and I buy things that she would like. Then there is a memories of the heart service at a beautiful chapel here, and we light candles for Kali and her name is read during a part of the service when many other names are read, too. It is wonderful and beautiful and very, very sad, but somehow it helps.... We will begin a new tradition this year of staying home on Christmas Eve and having a very quiet, private evening. On Christmas day a new tradition was born last year when we were invited to dinner by some friends that have no family near by. We have been invited again and our friends even used the phrase, "starting a new tradition" when we were invited. We are so grateful for these new things that help us make it through the holidays. Our hearts will always ache, especially at this time of year, with missing Kali and wishing she could be here, but with faith and help from our friends we will make it through again. Vicki
One of the things I started doing when my son left home for the Army was to buy the same gift that he would get every year and give it to a Toys for Tots type program. It seemed he got a new basketball each year, whether from me or from someone else. A new basketball fits boys of every age and so I continue to buy and give one each year. Now that I can face the stores again, I buy gifts for a lot of giving trees. I usually choose boys but sometimes buying a girl gift is fun too since I never got to do it much. Try giving a gift in your child's name and think of your child smiling down on you while at the same time you are bringing a smile to another child's face.
My idea, one which helped me tremendously from year one, was to scan the pics of Mark through his life - resizing them as small pics. Some I placed on holiday backgrounds sort of like a mat, others I framed in small frames, all wired for hanging on the tree. Since, I've added pics of Whendy, too. The tree at the ranch is adorned with their pics, some framed, some laminated in shapes like ornaments...the ornaments on the tree are their pics, with added bows and small crystal like angels. It really makes a precious little tree and adds the presence of our loved ones at Christmas gatherings. Sara
This will be the 1st time I will put up a tree since her accident. Last year we went on a cruise with the family to get away. I took some of Lana's ashes with me and the day of her accident, Jan. 1st, I sprinkled them from the boat. I'm sort of looking forward to seeing some of the decorations she made as a child, again. This year we are planning a New Years party and I will dedicate the fireworks display in honor of Lana. Brenda
A wreath is a traditional part of the holidays in most homes. For this ceremony, place five candles around a simple wreath. The wreath may be placed on any table or fireplace mantel. As you light each candle this year, you may create a new ritual which will become a lasting tradition. We hope this memorial will help you honor your loved one.
As we light these five candles in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, and one for our memories, one for our love, and one for our hope. This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you. This candle represents our courage -- to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, and to change our lives. This candle is in your memory--the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, and the caring and joy you gave us. This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season, day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us. And this candle is the light of hope. It reminds us of love and memories of you that are ours forever. May the glow of the flame be our source of hopefulness now and forever.
This will be our first Christmas without my son, Marcos. He died last February 7th, 1999. In some ways we are blessed (in many ways actually) that Marcos died after Christmas-- we had much of a year to think about and prepare for Christmas. My daughter, Adrianna is 17 and will be leaving for college next year, so I know that Christmas will be forever changed in many ways. I will be decorating this year, although not the same way and I am terrified of my son's stocking and the tree skirt which bears his name, however, I will still be using them--not as if he is still here, but because he was. Sometimes other people tend to forget that or not deal with it. In our house, the tradition has always been to have a Christmas Eve open house for everyone-- especially those who don't have a place to go. It's very informal and then we go to mass. I will do this especially this year. There are two things that I will specifically do, however, in memory of Marcos. I have decided to leave the door open all night-- so that symbolically and really all are welcome-- but especially for Marcos's spirit, which was so holy and spiritual. Also, friends had been kind enough to ask, especially the neighbors, if I would like them not to display lights on their houses in memory of Marcos. I said no but was heartened by their comforting gesture. I have asked, instead, if they would perhaps turn off all lights but one for an hour at midnight on Christmas Eve so that he can be remembered in a special way. Marcos would have loved the lights in general, and it would be nice to have them up otherwise. I may continue this tradition for many years to come in my own house. Finally, I don't know how comforting these things will be, I imagine this first Chrismas without my son will be devastating. I am already flustered and confused, but knowing that my friends have thought about us and that my door is still open may help get me through. Thanks for listening. Daria McCloskey.
Two days before Christmas, I became very impulsive and decided to do it. I did everything like we used to do, I frosted them alone. It was like a memorial to her.. I felt her all around me. Her dog kept barking and going to the door. I would go and look out the window, there was no one there. Finally, I opened the door, I had to open the door, and told her to come in. The dog went right in the kitchen ahead of me wagging her tail and still barking. Quite unbelievable, but true. I have been baking Christmas cookies for years. We tasted them later, and my husband and I agreed, something was missing from my famous sugar cookies. How I laughed, how I could feel her laughing, when I realized I did not put sugar in the dough. The unopened bag was still sitting in the cupboard.. I can't wait to bake with her next year..Tahnee Sue Eldridge May 2, 1978 * June 2, 1999
I gave my son Bram a small prefabricated tree complete with lights and decorations for his first apt when he moved from home which he used until he could afford his own. Unfortunately Bram was killed the day after he had bought and decorated his first real tree. The first year I put his prefabricated tree on his grave site. Now this year I used it as a prop to take photos of his daughter Julianna (who was born a month after he was killed). We will use this photo for our cards this year. And we have decided to put this tree up in addition to our real tree every year (somehow it will be in the Christmas cards too). This tree has come to mean so much about Bram to us. Thanks, Sheralee
I don't know if this counts as an idea but I started a group called For The Love Of Our Children in memory of my son Joe who died 5 years ago. It is a group of bereaved mothers who do charitable work for abused and abandoned children. We do a summer picnic and we do a Christmas Outreach wherein we sponsor an abused and/or abandoned child from a state facility and give them a gift in memory of our child. I don't know if any of your people would be interested but you can let me know. Sincerely, Betty Beltley EBeltley@aol.com
Last year was our first Christmas without our son Joe. We lost him in 48 hours on May 20, 1999, to menningicoccal septicemia. He was just 15 years old. We had no desire at all to celebrate Christmas. It was especially hard since Joe was the biggest Christmas person in our family. He was the first to want to put up the tree and all the decorations. He Loved having family around and spending time with cousins and relatives we never seemed to get to spend enough time visiting. He also had many friends that missed him as much as we do. In order to help us survive our first holiday without him, we started what we hope will be a long tradition. We put up a small tree that we always put in our front window, but this time we invited his friends to come and help us decorate the tree. This would be "Joe's tree." We asked each of them to bring an ornament, either store bought or hand made, in honor of Joe. It was so touching to see what they brought that reminded them of him, and it was amazing how much comfort it was to us to have them around. We talked and laughed and played cards and shared stories of Joe. The kids asked us if we could do this every year, and we gladly agreed. This year the holiday seems even more unbearable to us than last, but I know that these wonderful young people will once again bring us comfort and love, and hope that we can survive this tragedy.
Sharon Bryant firstname.lastname@example.org
My son died on 1/17/97. We had at the time 3 surivivng children. We have a new child since the accident that is learnig to love and know his brother through our rituals. Every Christmas, we hang a stockimg for Nathaniel and write our own personal thoughts of how we missed him in the past year. We roll the pretty christmas stationary into a scroll, tie it with ribbon and put it nto the stocking. I, as the mommy take the scrolls in the night and tell the children that Santa and Jesus delivered the thoughts/letters to their brother. We also put Nathaniels picture in the middle of the tree and light a big, white candle for him next to his picture on Christmas day. We love him so much. There will never be a holiday that our boy misses just because he died.
Hi Julane, After reading your ideas on your page I thought I would share mine with you. My son was killed in Aug of 96 and Christmas came very fast. I didn't know what to do about it. We always had a real tree but i know that I couldn't that year(I didn't want anything to do with Christmas) but I have other children and a granddaughter. So we all went out and bought a fake one for that year. I didn't put out all me things only a few. My daughter and I went out and bought two small real trees and decorated them. One we brought to Justin's grave and one for his bedroom. In his room I put my Christmas village with white lights all over his room. I put up all the kids' stockings, including Justin's. And on Christmas Eve, after everyone is asleep, I sit in the living room with only the tree lights on and write Justin a letter. After I am done writing him I put it in his stocking. This has become our time together. This year there will 5 letters in his stocking. Maybe, in years to come on that Christmas Eve night, I will open them and Justin and I could share them all. But for now I am still writing. I hope some of my ideas can help someone get through the Holidays with a little less pain.
Last year was our first Christmas without Cory, and we were all still in such a state of shock that I don't remember much about last Christmas, short of the agony of not having him with us. As you know, Cory's little boy was born,.a little over two months after Cory's passing, and because of him, and in memory of my Cory, I started a couple traditions that I would like to share. I have always decorated theme trees, and Cory used to get such a kick out of seeing what new tree I would do for the year, that I did one for just him this year, as several I read have. Just always being on the look out for that one particular ornament, that belongs totally to him, helps to keep him close at Christmas. Another thing that I will do this year, is I will go to the cemetery, and light his eternal candle, and with that I will leave him a gift. In the package will be a letter, telling of the wonderful things that Santa brought his child this year, and of precious moments the family had in remembrance of him. Then I will remove the gift after Christmas, and save the letters for his son to have one day. Not only do I get to share Christmas with Cory, but his little boy will have a wonderful book of letters, that will be a memorial to his father, and a way to give him memories of Christmas's past.
Cory was my only child, and he is what Christmas has been about for 27 years, and to not have him with us, is like having no Christmas at all. So each year, I will try to find new and different things to do, to keep his memory alive, for us, and his baby boy, who now will know all the traditions of his father, at Christmas time.
This Christmas I was having a hard time being without my 11 yr old son Ricky who was killed in a car accident. So I thought what could I do to make this feeling go away this holiday season. And I had decided to go to my local church and ask if they had a name of a boy that was 11 or so that needed some extra help this year for x-mas. Well they did and I adopted him for x-mas and took him shopping for a whole day - movies and all. He got some really nice gifts and we had dinner. It truly was a bittersweet day but it made me feel so much better about the whole situation.
This Christmas in Johnny's honor I helped gather donations for a very poor, deserving family of 7 who live in a one-room shack in our town. One of the female troopers came back to the post and told me about them and what a deplorable situation. So she and I put a notice in the paper and we received many generous donations. The outpouring of love and generosity was simply amazing. It made us feel so good. So that was my Christmas this year. I know Johnny would like that as he was such a kind, compassionate person.
I have Chad's last paycheck so I took some of his money and bought his sister, Jennifer, a charm that said #1 sister. She was so touched. She knew exactly where it came from. She also has had a rough time without him. There is only 3 years difference in their ages.
from Lori Newstrom
Our angel name is Megan Leigh who was 12 when she passed away after a year battle w/Non-Hodgkins and a bone-marrow transplant. This will be our second Christmas w/out her. Last year we took a ski trip. But put a special tree at her graveside and had lights that working w/a battery. I had anyone who wanted to put a special ornament on the tree for her. It turned out to be the prettiest tree at the cementary.
I plan on doing it again. But I like the idea of buying an ornament and having her name engraved and the year I think I'll do that this year.
Last year, christmas 2000, was my first Christmas without my 5 yr old little boy, Joshua. He died in May from cancer. In the tradition of grief, I would have been just as happy to let the holiday pass unnoticed. But my daughter Grace was 3 and there was no way I could avoid it. I do something similar to your ornament idea - but I have decided to do a "theme". One of the things Joshua loved the most was trains. Last year I bought him a little wooden one at a craft show and had his name written on it and the year. This year I got a hallmark one that says son, also with the year on it. I figure trains are a pretty popular symbol around a christmas tree so I should have no problem finding one every year. I know many people who buy a different angel for their tree every year. It's just a little reminder that even though life goes on, sometimes our hearts don't!!
Julane, after losing my son Brandon at age 18, I knew I would never send Christmas cards again, because I could never sign 4 names on there instead of 5. The first Christmas after Brandon died, other friends who had lost a daughter sent us a lovely card and signed the names of all of their family members including their lovely Jessica--except that her name had a tiny cross over it. I thought this was a wonderful, comforting idea except that I print a tiny angel head with a halo over Brandon's name now. The card has to be perfect, usually a simple angel card with a message of peace. As I would only send cards to close friends and family, I believe they would understand this gesture and not think I'm deluding myself--but I cannot leave Brandon out just because he is not longer living here on earth--he is here in our hearts and always will be a necessary part of the family and continuing to write his name with the rest of ours brings me comfort.
OUR DAUGHTER MELISSA LOST HER BATTLE WITH CANCER JULY 08...THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING A CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY WITHOUT HER IS UNBEARABLE. WE DECIDED TO BUY A TALL 9 FOOT NEW TREE THIS YEAR AND WE CALL IT OUR MELISSA TREE. FAMILY THAT ARRIVED FOR THANKSGIVING BROUGHT THEIR SPECIAL ORNAMENT THAT REMINDED THEM OF HER. ALL THE ORNAMENTS SHE COLLECTED AND THAT WERE GIVEN TO HER SINCE DAY 1 WILL BE ON THE MELISSA TREE. I SENT OUT INVITATIONS TO ALL HER FRIENDS TO GATHER ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON TO DEDICATE THE MELISSA TREE, AND TO BRING AN ORNAMENT. HER STOCKING IS HUNG ALONG WITH THE OTHERS. FROM TIME TO TIME I DROP A NOTE IN THERE TO EXPRESS MY FEELINGS AND TO SAY LOVE YOU FOREVER. HER BABY BLANKET IS THE TREE SKIRT. THIS IS MY WAY OF INCLUDING HER WITH US IN SPIRIT. HER ASHES ARE ON THE MANTEL ABOVE HER STOCKING, SHE IS ALL AROUND ME I KNOW... I FIND PENNIES VERY OFTEN, ESPECIALLY AFTER A TOUGH DAY EMOTIONALY...SHE IS TRYING TO SAY, DONT BE SAD!
We, who have been there, know how painful Christmas with friends and family can be. The rest of the family seems much too joyous. But they are all together and we have a huge hole in ours. Watching their joy is bad enough but the real pain is when our child is not mentioned; when no one recalls Christmases past, when he or she was there with them. Or, no one says how much our angel is missed at Christmas.
I have a suggestion which will probably help: Instead of, or along with your regular gifts to family and friends, give them a helpful book. Reprinted from angelabode.com