One of the great blessings I get from being a part of the MISS Foundation
is to be a part of the facilitator's mailing list. A few weeks back, Kim
Lotz sent around a note for an idea about helping bereaved parents through
the holidays (see article this month titled, "Holiday Gift Giving
Idea: Adapted"). And soon after her post, many other facilitators
came forward with these FABULOUS ideas for how they cope with the holidays
and how they help other bereaved families to get through it all. I was
so overwhelmed and encouraged by this out-pouring that I decided to compile
the ideas into a list for our Kota readers.
Hope that you, too, will find inspiration and courage from these amazing
ideas -- the holidays are never easy after the death of a child. It doesn't
matter how long it has been. So take heart, you are not alone. Take comfort,
you might find some support in one of these:
I made a point to have some memento at each Holiday [support group]
meeting, which means just about every month. For our first meetings,
I try to give a pin to each parent (hand or foot print) with their child's
name on it. Usually it is worn to Group only. For March I did a clover
with the child's name, for December - an ornament. The quilt squares
are wonderful too. You can supply the pre-cut
fabric and batting, along with puffy paint, buttons, etc... and work
on them together during a meeting. I was surprised how into it the Dads
For Christmas and Thanksgiving I have decorated a cemetery in the children's
section with flowers and a Kindness Card from our MISS Group. This gets
the web address out for those who are suffering the Holidays alone.
I have arranged guest speakers for Holiday meetings, too. Some professionals
who have had a personal experience are willing and eager to donate their
time during the Holidays. My focus is always to make it a time of celebration,
rather than slipping into the dark depression. I use the Holidays as
a time of "celebrating" the many ways in which my life has
been blessed by the child who has left us.
Setting up peer support during the next few months can also be very
helpful. I use to send a MISS group card to each family that I had been
in contact with and recognize their special child.
I came up with a nice idea for signing Christmas cards.
I got a very small angel paper puncher. (If you are thinking of doing
this, I recommend buying more than one. I actually have 3, then I always
have a back up when mine starts to get dull.) I punched out a little
angel at the bottom of every card, just under or after our names. The
first year I did this, I sent out a small typed up phrase (with another
angel punched out at the bottom), that said,
"The little angel at the bottom, is in memory of our precious
little Natalie. It is our way of symbolizing that although she is no
longer with us physically, her spirit will forever be part of us and
(More than a year later I saw that my father-in-law had framed it and
put it in his bedroom.)
Now I punch a little angel out of every card I send, not only Christmas
cards. My friends, family, co-workers, and everyone we know understand
what it means. It's my way of reminding them of Natalie and making sure
that no one can forget her, letting them know that she is still very
much a part of our family.
I have heard of another mom that does the same with an angel stamp.
Each year at our support group meetings in December,
we try to have a "holiday party" so to speak. While we are
talking, we provide materials for everyone to make an ornament for their
angel(s). The dads really dig using glue guns!! The people who have
been with us a while say that these are
absolute treasures to them.
The ornaments are usually making an angel of some
sort. Last year we did a seashell body with a wooden ball for the head,
craft store wedding rings for the halo, and wood hearts put together
with the points touching on the back for the wings. We also had a small
ribbon that was glued on like a necklace with a bead that was the color
of the birthstone of the baby. We glittered up the wings ahead of time
and spray painted the seashells white. They really turned out nice.
We also have candles there that they light when
they come in. We also ask people to bring in music they like that we
play in the background. I think personally, it is my favorite meeting
of the year, and we provide a safe place to "celebrate" with
people who understand. We also give them a gift from us, usually another
So often, as we all know, the holidays just suck. We try
to make it just a little easier.
The one thing that I found helpful last year is
- I bought some inexpensive plastic angel ornaments from Big Lots (they
are red, green or clear and they open up). I gave one to each member
of our extended family and our close friends and asked them to write
something to Geneva for Christmas. They could write whatever they chose
to and then they were supposed to put their notes in the ornaments and
bring it to our house to hang on our tree.
Craig and I loved seeing all of the filled angels
on our tree and especially liked reading all of the notes after Christmas
as we were putting the ornaments away. (I wanted to wait to read the
notes, because putting the Christmas decorations away is very depressing
We also do this at Easter time with plastic easter
I always include Cheyenne in our Christmas cards
(they are usually pre-printed)-- for example:
"Like the unseen breeze, the presence of those loved
and lost remains with us always."
This holiday season we remember our daughter and sister, Cheyenne.
Take time this season to remember...
Something my husband and I did last year to cope
with the holidays was that we bought all our family members Christmas
ornaments with Emily's name and the year on them. That made me feel
like she would be a part of people's Christmas.
My mother in law also went to a nursery and bought
a whole bunch of pink rose bushes. We put big pink bows on them and
gave them to people. I love going to people's houses and having them
show me "Emily's Rose." These gifts gave us a positive focus
and really helped us cope.
Can you see what I mean about inspired and comforted by all these ideas?
Hope that something here has sparked an idea for you and your family as
we move through the holiday season and into the New Year. As always, we
here at KotaPress would love to hear from you about how this article helped
or inspired you. Or if you think of your own ideas to add to this list,
just email them to us. We're glad to offer more "coping ideas"
in the next issue as we know how much bereaved families need tools at
this time of year!
Be in touch at email@example.com
and thanks for your readership and contributions!