Christmas is hard when you are grieving, and even more so when the loved one you are grieving is a child. So much of the holiday seems focused on children and childhood - and then, of course, there is the fact that a baby is the central character of the whole season - even if it is Jesus.
If someone close to you is a bereaved parent, what can you do to support them through the Christmas season? While everyone grieves differently, here are three things that are on the wish list of many bereaved parents this holiday season:
1. They want to be understood. They need to have the freedom to do Christmas the way that is best for them. To skip the parts that hurt a raw heart. To participate and not have people think that coming to the party means they have finally gotten over the loss of their baby. To have their friends and relatives realize how hard this time of year is when your baby is no longer with you. A simple acknowledgement of this, whether spoken or in a note, goes a long way.
2. They want to know their baby is not forgotten. And if they have named their baby, they want to hear their baby's name, or to see it in writing. You never realize how much you take names for granted until you have a child whose name has no reason to be said. "I'm thinking of you and remembering _____ this year" is a wonderful gift to a bereaved parent, as is a Christmas ornament or another kind of memorial to remember a baby born to Heaven.
3. They want to know their baby's life had a purpose. If your friend's experience helped you in any way to appreciate life in a new way, or to give to others, tell them. Give to a charity in the name of your friend's baby, or just tell them what their experience has meant to you. Let them know that God has used their baby to inspire something good in you.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friend this Christmas season. It will make a world of difference.