Remembering Them at Christmas Time

Remembering them at Christmas time, a list of idea on including your child in Heaven in your Christmas seasonOver the years I have read and heard of some interesting and beautiful ways to include your children in heaven in your Christmas tradition. I wanted to make a list, in case anyone is looking for ideas. I wish I could remember where I found/ read some of them, but like I said it’s something I’ve collected over the years and I want it written down somewhere. :)

+ buy a children’s book, and donate to your local children’s hospital’s NICU floor/ cancer floor in memory of your child

+ create a care package/ memory box and deliver to your local hospital

+ deliver home-baked goods (or flowers) to the nurses/staff /doctors /midwives that aided you at the hospital/ birthing center

+ include a stocking for your child in Heaven and ask family and friends to write a note, a memory or a wish and read them on Christmas morning

+ send a lantern (you can write a message before sending it off with a sharpie) to the sky

+ donate some toys to a child in need, who might be around the same age as your child would have been

+ make an ornament in your child’s memory. This idea is absolutely gorgeous.

+ decorate a miniature tree for your child

+ each year buy your child a special ornament and keep them in a special box, even if you don’t use them all every year

+ donate to a charity or cause in your child’s memory. Ask your friends and family to donate in your child’s name, if you think they might be receptive. Once someone anonymously donated $50 to the Ronald McDonald House in Jenna’s name, and it was one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever received. A cause close to my heart is Angela’s book campaign. She even has an option to include your child’s name in her book!

+ Decorate your child’s resting place, and if you don’t have one you can create a small space for your child in your home (maybe around the miniature Christmas tree)

+ host a meal through the Ronald McDonald House at your local hospital

+ Use his/ her handprints and incorporate them into an ornament. Tutorial here.

+ do a random act of kindness everyday in December until Christmas (or the new year!) and leave a note saying who it is in memory of. You might create the note on the computer in a Word Document and print out, or photocopy :)

+ read the Christmas Box books, so good!

+ take part in an ornament exchange, or start your own with the people in your circles

+ write your baby messages in the snow, sand (you know, if you live where it snows… or near the beach)

+ take a mini vacation to a different city and take the opportunity to escape the clammer of the holidays, when your heart can only feel pain

+ decorate a candle in your child’s memory. Tutorial here.

+ start new Christmas traditions. 

+ make a snow globe using one your child’s pictures, photo copy of hand prints/ footprints, or even ultrasound pictures. Tutorial here.

If you have any ideas, feel free to include them in the comments <3

Paying it Forward

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Natalie is sharing how she honors her son’s short life during Christmas.

I am so honored to be sharing a bit of my heart with you, through this series. What a wonderful way to celebrate those little lives waiting for us in heaven.

We found out we were expecting our first child in October 2009. The Christmas of that year was one of hope and anticipation. We celebrated our Savior and the blessing of the babe growing inside of me. We did not receive very many baby items, because we had yet to find out the gender of the baby. Who knew that I would look back in amazement at the fact that God shielded us from the heartache of returning those items. At 21 weeks, the day before we found out that he was a “he”, we lost our little Jonah. While our hearts have done a lot of healing since then, there is not a day that passes, that I don’t think of his tiny body lying in my arms, and the hopelessness that filled the room.

When Christmas came in 2010, we decided we no longer wanted to remember sweet Jonah as hopelessness and loss, but as a reason to celebrate. We celebrate that he is waiting for us in heaven, and we celebrate the fact that God carried us through that difficult time, only to bring us our adopted son, who was born only one month after Jonah should have been born. We keep his memory alive by blessing someone else during this season of giving. Jonah would’ve been 2 this Christmas, and so we will shower another deserving 2 year old with gifts, as a sign of hope that has been renewed. We continue to celebrate Jonah’s presence, both here and in heaven.

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Healing Lights at Christmastime

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today we have baby loss mama, Kate, sharing with us. I love her way of remembering her son at Christmas time!!

I am so very honored to be contributing to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas With You In Heaven.
What an amazing way to connect with other mamas. To share our stories.
Thank you so much for this outlet to share our lives and how we honor our littles that have gone before us.

This will be our fourth year celebrating Christmas without our son, Noah Joel.

Noah was our first little, the child we never knew was with us until he was already slipping away.
I miscarried Noah in July of 2009. It was heart-breaking. To be honest, it still hurts today.

When the holidays come around, my heart breaks a little more.
I see other little boys his age and think of what we would be doing with our son.
The gifts under the tree. the special christmas cards to send out.
Baking cookies in the kitchen. Snuggling in bed reading the Christmas Story.

In early 2011, we found out we would be adding to our little family.
In june, we found out we would be having a little girl.
October 2011, our second little, Eden was born.
That Christmas, there was so much joy. Thankfulness.

But something was missing. our son.
I told myself that I would be over-reacting to do something for Noah.
That somehow I would be disrespecting the “family flow” of the first grandchild born.
That I would add a heaviness to a happy season.

I was so very wrong.
I was judging myself and worrying about what others might say or think.
My husband and I would grieve on our own.
Pray on our own. Pray with eden.

Not any more. This Christmas marks a new beginning in our family.
We want to have a way to honor Noah.
We want Eden to be raised knowing that she has an older brother watching over her.

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Not only does Eden have a brother watching over her,
she has an aunt, Megan.
and she has a Great Mimi.

My parents lost their first little on December 23.
almost four months along.
My sister and I always grew up knowing about Megan.
The sister we would never meet on earth.

But she played a big part in my life. my faith.
Especially around the holidays.
That child-like faith in knowing that God was watching over me,
and we had an insider so to say.

My grandmother, Mimi, passed away from pancreatic cancer this past February.
Not even a year after diagnosis. Last year eden and myself flew to PA to see her one last time.
Eden was just a couple months old. Nothing prepared me for seeing my Mimi so weak.
Christmas was her favorite season.

She loved baking cookies, wrapping gifts,
calling us on the phone to ask what we got from Santa.
She loved the lights. We bonded over the lights.
To this day, lights have always been my signature Christmas must have.

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What they stand for.
The brilliance of twinkles amongst darkness.
My middle name Elaine: meaning light.
My daughters name Eden: meaning delight.
The joy that lights bring to me remind me of a child.
Remind me of angels. Angels watching over us.

They now remind me of…
Noah. Megan. My Mimi.

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A couple weeks ago it hit me.
I knew what we would do to honor Noah.
How we would remind Eden and her future siblings of their brother.
Their Aunt. Their Great- Mimi. Whom they would never meet on Earth.

On December 23, the day Megan went to Heaven,
we will have a special gift for Eden.
A pair of Christmas pajamas, my Mimi’s favorite gift,
wrapped to be open and put on right before we pile in the car with hot cocoa.

to go look at Christmas lights. with our angels. with our Noah.
the lights that allow us to see the beauty in the darkness.

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Please know that for all of you who have lost your littles, you will be in our prayers and thoughts through this Christmas season.

We love you all and wish you a blessed and healing Christmas.

Xoxo,
Kate
www.nestingelm.blogspot.com

What to Say to a Grieving Family at Christmas

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Aubri’s post is a brilliant read for anyone wanting to help a grieving family during Christmas.

I am absolutely honored to be included as a guest poster on this year’s “12 Days of Christmas With You In Heaven.” As an angel mom, sister, auntie, and friend, I know a thing or two about the grief that accompanies the loss of a pregnancy, infant, or child. It is a many faceted grief. Frequently, because I am so open about my own experiences with this grief, I am asked for help. Not by other angel families, but by the friends and extended families of angel parents. At Christmas especially, it seems that many people don’t know what to say or do, or how to address the grief of angel families. People are always worried that they’ll do it “wrong”. I always say, if you’re worried about “doing it wrong”, you most likely won’t. That level of worry shows a deep care for the family involved. But it got me thinking… what if there was a list! A good list comprised of things that angel families HOPE for. So, I’ve talked with my many, many angel family friends, and I’ve come up with a five item wish list of sorts: what to say to a grieving family at Christmas.

Talk to us. Please don’t assume that saying nothing about our lost one will keep us from hurting. It does the exact opposite. When people who were previously so excited about our impending arrival, our pregnancy, or our child suddenly stop talking about them… it hurts. It can feel as if our angel is forgotten. That is an incredibly lonely feeling, and nobody deserves to feel lonely at Christmas! Shoot us an email! Text us! Let us know you’re thinking of us and our angel. We may get misty, or quiet, or laugh, or any number of reactions… but we will know that you care and that our angel exists in more hearts than our own, and that feels SO good. Ask us what our plans are for the holiday, ask us how we’re feeling, especially if you have the time and the sincerity to back that up with a good listening session.

Understand our limits. We may not be emotionally able to be at every holiday function, event, get-together, and outing. I have heard many times over, that it is sometimes harder to be in the middle of the festivities, laughing, and trying not to remember, than it is to be at home, remembering. When inviting angel families to your Christmas parties, charity events, work functions, cookie exchanges, etc. do not be offended if we politely decline. PLEASE invite us anyway, but if we call to cancel on the day of, or miss it all together, please know that it isn’t you. If we miss a function, please call us to make sure we’re okay. “Hey, we missed you last night! Are you doing all right today? Can I swing by with some of the cookies for you to enjoy?” Let us know that you still love and understand us, even if we space something out.

Let us grieve on our own time. It doesn’t matter if this is our first Christmas with an angel in Heaven, or our 51st. Please understand that grief isn’t something you get over, it’s something you go through. At Christmas, as a grieving parent, seeing “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments, or the stocking that we lovingly prepared, or the Christmas outfit that we had ready may be more than we can handle at times, even if those things were purchased for a little one who has been gone for a long time. Please be cautious with your words. Try this, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, and I know it isn’t a quick process. I am here for you, for as long as you need me to be.” Most angel parents I have spoken with (and I include myself in that list) have had at least one person say something like this to them. It makes ALL the difference, especially at Christmas.

Let us grieve in our own way, and without judgment. Losing a child is so incredibly hard. You know this. We know you know this. So often, people will make comments (in an attempt to be helpful, I’m sure!) that are unintentionally hurtful. If an angel family is grieving in a way that doesn’t make sense to you, it’s okay! I know several angel families who didn’t exhibit much outward grief. Many well-meaning friends kept telling them to not put on such a brave face, or to just go ahead and be sad… It wasn’t what they needed at that time. On the flip side, some angel families are told that their public grief is making people uncomfortable. If you’re concerned about the way your angel family is grieving, try talking to them from a place of no judgment. Maybe try observing. Emulate what you see. If your angel family is laughing, laugh with them. If they are mournful, mourn with them. When I went through my own loss, the most helpful friend was the one who didn’t ask what I needed, but on a day that I was particularly sad, brought me a beautiful daisy, held my hand, put her head on my shoulder and quietly cried with me.

Remember us. This is the number one thing I feel, and have heard from other angel families. At Christmastime, remember us! When that fleeting thought of us, or our angel, flits through your mind please take a moment to let us know. Many angel families have some sort of remembrance tradition to honor their angel during the holidays. Perhaps offer to help. Consider writing a letter to our loved one in Heaven, or maybe donating to a charity in our name or our angel’s name. Little things that memorialize our lost ones help us feel that we, and they, are important to the world. That goes a long way for helping to fill the hole many of us have at Christmastime.

Finally, know that if you are trying, you are doing enough. So many people feel as if they’re not doing it “right” or being helpful… please know that we know you care! Angel families are so grateful for any love that is shown to our loved ones and us. The perspective changes when you go through a loss. You understand how meaningful each kind word or gentle reminder of friendship can mean. I heard (and have seen as wall vinyl or plaques in the homes of angel families) a beautiful statement regarding loss. “Because someone we love is in Heaven, we feel Heaven in our home.” We invite you to feel that with us. Christmas as an angel family, or with an angel family, can be an amazingly beautiful and spiritual thing.

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Ornaments In Their Memory

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Angie is sharing a bit of her heart and how she honors her daughter this time of year.

 Tis’ the Season to be Jolly. That is hard to do when you have a lost a child and we have come to that Christmas season, that we knew would bring lots of familiar emotions and new ones that would tug at our hearts so deep.

Six years ago, we lost our first child, Payton, she was stillborn on March 16th. As we survived those seven months before Christmas, including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we knew Christmas was going to be especially hard. Everyone walking and singing with Christmas spirit. children smiling and excited to share all their wants from Santa, and decorations filled our homes reminding us to Believe.

I couldn’t believe my daughter was not going to be with me for her first Christmas to open her presents, peak in her stockings, and many more to come. That is when I was overwhelmed with the desire to keep her spirit alive along with the Christmas spirit in our home. She was still a part of our family. I would love to share with you a few things we do in our home to keep her spirit alive during the spirit Christmas.

We have Angel ornaments on our tree that represent our daughter. We will either buy a new one each year or receive a new one as a gift from memorial services that we attend in honor of her. We are blessed with two healthy living children and they share this with us. Our son likes nutcrackers, our daugter likes anything shiny and pretty, and our sweet first child has the Angels.

We love to get a gift for our two children to play together from our daughter in Heaven. We sign the gift label from big sister Payton and our children get so excited when they see it under the tree. We still hang her stocking we bought that first year with our family stockings.

We also participate in our local Angel Tree at church. We choose one angel for each of our children. We try to pick a child’s name that is the same gender and age as ours. So this year we will have a 6 year old girl, 5 year old boy, and 4 year old girl. This is a selfless act and a rewarding way to help others in need while honoring our child in Heaven and teaching about giving to our children.

Lastly, I remember our first Christmas after we had our second child, it was time to do our Christmas cards. I was so excited to share our family photo and sign our cards, love the Brown family, and list each of our names. I was also heartbroken thinking that my daughter was not in the family pictures or how do I sign her name on the card. I was not ashamed to have her name and I did sign it the first year but I was concerned how it would make others feel as time went on. I decided for our family to feel that we were including her in the the special time of sending Christmas cards, was to use an Angel punch stamp, and I would stamp each corner of the card to cherish our daughter . Some people asked about it, some smiled, and some said nothing at all but I knew in my heart she was with us and I could celebrate her this way.

As Christmas day approaches, I pray that you will find healing and special ways to honor your child. I pray that you find peace and comfort in these little ways that represent your sweet child in Heaven. I hope that you will find joy and laughter throughout the season during the midst of sadness and heartache. Fill your hearts with hope in honoring your precious child of God who was chosen to be yours.

Love,

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Free Christmas Printables for Kids

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here.

hi friends. my name is aimee – i blog with my husband at Small Anchors; a new project for us. a place for us to share together or separately.

today i designed for these hands. the busy hands of our sweet 2. jack & abigail.

// they are busy hands. full of grace. full of life. little fingers needing busy tasks to occupy them. sweet little nails to hold polish once a week. fingers that dig into the earth. the busyness of their hands as they search, play, wonder, imagine…

i made three Christmas cards — for your kids {& mine} to paint, color, glitter, sparkle & shine. then to fold, to address & mail out or give away.

<<card #1 // Merry Christmas>>

<<card #2 // O Christmas Tree>>

<<card #3 // Holiday Shapes>>

// click the image or the link below to open up the original PNG onto printer paper or cardstock.

enjoy. enjoy.

Aimee Steckowski

i’m a total Jesus girl. wife to a U.S. Marine for 10 years. stay at home momma to jack & abby in Southern California. i love posting weekly DIY projects here and connecting with all of you! i own a small graphic & website design firm called Aimee & Co and have just recently launched a blog with my husband called Small Anchors. i love taking photos, sewing, making projects, gardening, designing and smiling with my sweet littles. my heart fully loves my work with the Fancy Little Things website, a commnity for girlfriends.

Blog | Web Design Shop | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

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My Forever Child Giveaway

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the ideas and giveaways that bereaved mamas have been sharing through this series. It’s almost over, but before it ends I wanted to give something extra special away. If you’ve been in the baby loss community for any amount of time you’ve probably heard about My Forever Child. When I tweeted My Forever Child telling them about this series and my idea for the giveaway, Sue from My Forever Child not only agreed to share this giveaway, but donate a SECOND prize, so that there would not be only one, but TWO winners! How awesome are they!!!?

The prize for each winner? A $50 Gift Certificate to their online shop!

 

My Forever Child Giveaway

PAIL Ribbon Pendant

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To enter please use the Rafflecopter below.

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The Glittering Pinecone and the Loss of My Son

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Candice shares a beautiful tradition she carries on in her son’s memory.

I married into a family tradition where my husband’s family would go to Frankenmuth, Michigan each year (a Bavarian styled village), eat at the famous Zehnders Restaurant and then go to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland where each family member would purchase one ornament that signified that year. It is a wonderful tradition! When you look at your Christmas tree a flood of memories come back as you remember the events and circumstances that are tied with each ornament.

Six years ago, our second child, Jack Forrest, was born in the town of Bethlehem. The same Bethlehem that Jesus was born in over 2000 years ago. He was born in the Holy Family Hospital not a mile from where Jesus was historically born. A short seven weeks later he passed away from a very sudden and tragic accident. It is beyond words to describe the pain and sorrow I went through in losing a child. Yet there are so many beautiful things that happened after that event that aided in my healing.

Four months later we were back in the United States to celebrate Christmas with family. We did the traditional Christmas trip to Frankenmuth. I planned on getting an ornament for Jack. This would be his one and only ornament that would encompass his short but beautiful life. Nothing moved me. Nothing could give me the depth that I was looking for. Then my husband came back with a gorgeous green glittered pinecone ornament. The tag on it said this, “The Tradition of the Pinecone – Because they withstood the cold of winter, evergreen trees were regarded as symbols of eternal life.” That was it… his ornament would remind me that he is not gone forever.

So each Christmas I hang that most treasured ornament in a prominent place on our Christmas tree in remembrance of Jack Forrest. Oddly enough, before this, we had planted a small pine tree at his grave. I had done this because of his name, but there is so much more of a significance now.

There are a million craft ideas for pinecone ornaments… this may be a great way for you and your family to hang something on your tree to remember your beautiful child! Although our precious Jack is gone, each Christmas his glittering pinecone ornament reminds me that there is hope after death and that Jack is safe with God the father. I miss him dearly but soon I will again hold him in my arms.

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Christmas Joy

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Angelique talks today about her beautiful ornament tradition, and how she remembers her children in Heaven at Christmas time.

Christmas begins the weekend after Thanksgiving in my home. We carefully pack away the autumn items and ‘deck the halls’ literally. We drape greenery overtop every horizontal surface- book cases and buffets and curtain rods. We take out the musical carousel that spins and plays carols while the animals- lions, ostriches, camels- glide up and down. Then we put up our tree and begin to hang our decorations- red berry garlands, white lights and finally, our ‘Family’ ornaments. Each year since we were engaged, my husband and I have purchased a Family ornament. The first ornament was a silver heart with a favorite wedding picture inside, next comes a picture of my hubby and I on our first anniversary. Each year, we hang a new ornament that shows how our family has grown and changed.

This year, the picture will include my hubby and myself, our two children and my 15 year old niece of whom we have custody. The picture will be of us – our family – in varying shades of blue, posing at a beautiful, gothic-style church. My son and daughter each hold a white stone in their hand each representing an elder sibling who was lost during pregnancy. Calan, my first sweet child, was born during the 8th week of pregnancy in August of 2004. My son, Anduril, was born sleeping at 22.5 weeks in August of 2005. Every child in our family also has their own ornament. We began the tradition after losing my son. I wanted to remember him that Christmas, so we bought a snowflake for Anduril and a Christmas star for Calan. These were joined by a baby carriage with a Santa bear after my son Alex’s birth in 2006 and a lovely Victorian heart for my daughter Fae was hung on the tree in 2009.

Every year, when I take these precious ornaments out, the family gathers around the tree and we smile, and mourn, and are grateful for our all of our children. We give thanks for all the joy in our lives and we grieve all that has been lost. I miss my eldest children- I miss the matching holiday shirts they would have worn each Christmas Eve; I miss checking on them one last time and grinning at how excited they would be in the morning; I miss the moments of delight- excited screams and peppermint kisses- as the sun just begins to peep over the snowy hills on Christmas morning… But there is a quiet joy in knowing they are never really lost to me. Their cells still run through my blood, their place in our family still belongs to them and their Christmas ornaments are hung with love every year.

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Subway Art Giveaway

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Angela is giving away a beautiful piece of her custom subway art.

Our beautiful, little boy, Mattiaus, was born on August 24, 2010 and unexpectedly passed away on August 6, 2011, just weeks shy of his first birthday. Prior to his birth we received the devastating news that something was wrong, he was diagnosed with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, an extremely serious respiratory defect, and his chances of survival were about 50%. But he was so strong & determined and such a fighter that he came home after 3 months in the NICU. We endured many hardships at home, but would do it all over again! Mattiaus is a beautiful soul, with the most beautiful eyes, and he brought such happiness and joy to everyone who met him. Most importantly he showed us what unconditional love is and to live life to the very fullest, every single day. We miss him very much and will continue to live life on this side of Heaven, until we are reunited. Forever loved, always missed!
Angela is generously giving away a personalized piece of subway art (as seen above), winner gets to choose colors and any choice of words that have special meaning. The winner will be emailed a high resolution JPEG of the subway art to print anywhere they choose.
To enter the giveaway please use the Rafflecopter below.

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Eden’s Wings Giveaway

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today we have a beautiful giveaway from Molly, from Eden’s Wings.

About Eden’s Wings:

Our precious daughter, Eden, was born sleeping on March 18, 2012. After 38 weeks of healthy pregnancy, her death came as a complete and devastating shock. In the following months, I struggled with finding purpose behind her untimely death. I began to search for ways to remember my sweet baby girl’s short, but profound, life. Through this mission, I founded Eden’s Wings. It is my hope that when you look down and see your bracelet, you are reminded that your child is loved and remembered.

beautiful handmade remembrance bracelet

To enter to win this bracelet pictured, please use the Rafflecopter below.

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Baby Footprint Ornament

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here

I hope you enjoy this tutorial! I am always looking for ways to use Jenna’s footprints, and this is the perfect excuse.

Baby Footprint Ornament

What you need:

- laser copy of your baby’s footprints (black and white or color)

- small bowl of water

- clear packing tape

- small strips of tulle

- one glass ornament

- pencil

- mod podge

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1. Cut out your baby’s footprints to a small square.

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2. Cover the printed footprints with clear masking tape. Overlap the tape if need be, you don’t want any paper on the front side without tape covering it. Do not fold excess tape over the edge. Trim edges instead to get a nice clean look. Rub out any air bubbles with a rolling pin, wooden spoon, brayer or even your fist.

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3. Dunk taped footprint square into the small bowl of water until it is completely soaked.

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4. Once you can feel that the entire paper is soaked softly sub the backside to see if the paper begins to peel back, as seen above.

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5. It will look something like this. Continue to rub off excess paper and submerge with water if need be. Be cautious not to rub too hard, as it could rub off your image.

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6. Yay! Now you have your precious footprints! Set aside on a dry towel.

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7. Grab your glass ornament and strips of tulle and begin slowly pushing them into the ornament. Using the eraser side of a pencil worked like a charm.

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8. Continue until your ornament is completely filled with tulle. Recap your ornament.

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9. With a small paintbrush spread some mod podge where you would like the footprints to go. Place the footprints (you might cut out each one, and a little tighter as well, to wrap around the ornament better) one at a time over the mod podge.

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10. Set aside to dry and enjoy!

Baby Footprint Ornament Hanging on tree

Handprint Christmas Tree

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Jolene is sharing a neat craft idea you can make using your precious childrens’ handprints!

Thank you so much Francesca for allowing me to be a guest poster and to share my family with you all.

My name is Jolene and I’m the mother of 3 amazing children. Two of them are here on Earth, and my third baby, Nathan is in heaven. Nathan was born at 24 weeks gestation in May, 2011.

We were able to spend 26 of the most beautiful days with Nathan, where we learned so much about life, strength, faith, and love. We continue to learn so much from having Nathan in our lives and we try to live in a way that honors him.

Since Nathan has passed away, I struggle with the thought that people may forget him. I hate feeling like I might be leaving him out. At first, when people would ask me how many children I have, I would always say “three,” and then include an explanation. I have now learned to be selective with who I choose to share Nathan with. But at home, Nathan is remembered always. His name is spoken. Even though he is not here physically, he is still my son. He is still the 5th member of our family. Nothing can change that.

Last Christmas, I did my best to stay busy with my two older children while also looking for ways to include Nathan.

Nathan’s hand and footprints are very special to me. I have them up in a frame where I can see them everyday. While I was working on Christmas crafts with my kids, I came up with the idea to create a Christmas tree where the “leaves” are traced from Nathan’s handprints on green felt. I did all of the cutting and gluing, and when I was done, I let my kids decorate the tree.

It was very simple to make.

Here is what you’ll need:
- foam cone
- green felt
- cardboard or cardstock to make a handprint template
- glue (I used tacky glue, but I believe hot glue would also work.)
- embellishments for your tree (I used foam stickers from the craft store and a star button for the top of the tree.)
- scissors

Directions

1. I started by making a photocopy of Nathan’s handprints. Then I cut out the handprints and traced them onto a piece of cardstock. I cut out the handprints from the cardstock and used these ones as my template.


2. From the template, I traced many handprints onto the green felt.
3. Start cutting!
4. Once you have enough green felt handprints, you are ready to start gluing them onto the bottom of the foam cone and work your way up.


5. When your cone is completely covered, it’s time to decorate it!

It did take some time to trace and cut all those tiny handprints, but I feel like the time I spent working on it was very therapeutic for me. It was time strictly devoted to Nathan, and we ended up with a beautiful way to include him in our Christmas decorations.

I just love having this little tree around because it feels as though we have a piece of Nathan with us. It is also symbolic of the way that those tiny hands have completely touched our lives and changed our world.

Wishing you all peace this Christmas as you remember your precious children.

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Ways to Honor Your Child at Christmas Time

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Jenn is sharing some ways she has honored her son’s life during Christmas over the years.

Hi, my name is Jenn from Treasuring Life’s Blessings and I’m so honored to be sharing with you how we include our son in celebrating Christmas with us. We are coming up on our 3rd Christmas without our son Noah. Honestly, I can’t say that time passing has made it any easier though coming up with ways to honor his memory & including him does help soften the grief. As the holiday season has been approaching, I’ve felt the tears close to the surface more so than usual. I can’t begin to imagine the Christmas celebrations Noah gets to take part of in Heaven but my human heart still wishes he was here with us.

Our first Christmas without Noah was only 5 1/2 months after he died. I honestly wanted to sleep through the day & forget Christmas. But I couldn’t. At the time, we had 4 other living children who despite their pain, were looking forward to Christmas. Adding to the mix I was almost 3 months pregnant with our rainbow baby. I was a mess of emotions. We pretty much kept to ourselves & tried to ignore those who projected their expectation of how we should be during this time (and we still have to around this time of year). One thing we as a family were all in agreement was that we wanted Noah to have his stocking hung with the other kids by the fireplace. In fact, that first year, we put a small gift in his stocking for each of the other kids “from” Noah. They all thought this was such a special thing. And it did our hearts good to have Noah included.

Last year we changed things up. I posted on my blog & facebook page that for Christmas, I wanted Noah’s stocking to be filled with stories of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (R.A.C.K.) I encouraged our friends to do something for someone else then to either email me or send a note about what they did & I would put it in Noah’s stocking to be opened and read as a family on Christmas day. Oh what a blessing that was!!! I printed out the messages without reading them & placed them in his stocking. Some friends even sent via the post office cards addressed to Noah. It made our day to get mail with Noah’s name on it! The highlight of our Christmas day last year was reading about all the creative ways strangers were blessed in Noah’s memory. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving!!

We are so thankful for the many friends who have blessed us the last 2 years with ornaments in Noah’s memory. We are building a wonderful collection of them to place on our tree every year.  Maybe someday when we get a lot, we will display them on his own tree. But for now, we proudly display his ornaments front and center on our main tree. When it isn’t Christmas, I keep his ornaments visible in our china cabinet.

Since we are unable to purchase gifts for our son, we started participating in Operation Christmas Child. We fill up a shoe box of gifts (both practical things like hygiene items & clothes as well as toys) for another little boy that would be Noah’s current age. I admit it’s bittersweet shopping as a family, picking out gifts for another little boy as we think of Noah wondering what he’d be into today. Though it feels good that we can bless another child in Noah’s memory.

Another thing I have struggled with since Noah died is Christmas cards. No one tells you about this small yet overwhelming task you face in addition to all the other things grief throws your way during the holidays. Our first Christmas it was easy enough to do cards since Noah would’ve only been a few months old, we just used one of his pictures we had taken when he was alive. Last year though, over a year after he died, was a lot harder to know what to do. In fact, I didn’t bother with cards as it hurt too much and I didn’t want to be judged. We typically do photo cards of all the kids every year and there is just no way we can do cards without including Noah somehow. Since then, I don’t let what others may think bother me & only care to do what my kids and husband prefer. It’s second nature now for us to hold a picture of Noah when we take family pictures.

None of us can imagine taking a group photo without him somehow being represented. We also prefer to sign his name to any card we send out as a family. After all, Noah is alive, he just has a different address than us right now!

This year is our first time decorating Noah’s grave. We had his headstone placed this summer so it only seemed fitting to decorate “his space” for Christmas just like we do at home. In fact, his wreath we put together matches our themed Christmas tree.  We used some of the ornaments & ribbon from our tree to dress it up.  My girls spray painted some pine cones they found to match the color scheme. It helps us feel like he is being included in our celebrations at home knowing he has the same decorations as us.

If you are reading this and haven’t lost a child but have a close friend or family member who has, I encourage you to please make sure you include that precious baby this Christmas season. If you send the family a card, also address it with the child’s name. If you don’t do cards, drop the family a note or email letting them know you are thinking of them during the holiday season & recognize how tough this time of year is (many of us withdrawl and keep quiet due to the pain). Maybe do something in the child’s memory or make a donation & let the family know. Even just saying their child’s name in conversation or giving them a little something that made you think of their child means the world to that family!

No matter where you are at in this journey, please know you aren’t alone in how you feel. There is no right or wrong way to remember your child this Christmas season. No matter what we do to include Noah, ultimately for us as a family, what gets us through is clinging to the Hope we have in Jesus that someday we will be able to hold Noah again. Until then, we do our best to honor Noah’s memory & include him in our family celebrations.

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Our story is one of heartache & hope. In May of 2010, at 33 weeks pregnant, we were told our 5th child, Noah, had Trisomy 13 and would die at any moment. He showed the Doctors that God’s ways were higher than theirs, as he was 9 days over due & spent some alive time with us, graduating to Heaven the day after he was born in July 2010. Since then, we have been learning to navigate this path God has placed our family on. While our hearts ache for our son, we have been so blessed by all God has allowed his precious life to teach us and can’t wait for the day we are finally together again as a family! Please join us at Treasuring Life’s Blessings to read more about our journey, including our miraculous rainbow baby’s birth on Noah’s birthday. You can also follow us at our Facebook page.

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A Grace Disguised Book Giveaway

If you are visiting for the first time, this post is part of the series “12 Days of Christmas With You in Heaven”. To learn more about this series, please click here. Today Beth is generously giving away a copy of a book that helped her through the loss of her daughter, which happened to be shortly before Christmas.

“Gifts of grace come to all of us. But we must be ready to see and willing to receive these gifts. It will require a kind of sacrifice, the sacrifice of believing that, however painful our losses, life can still be good — good in a different way then before, but nevertheless good. I will never recover from my loss and I will never got over missing the ones I lost. But I still cherish life. . . . I will always want the ones I lost back again. I long for them with all my soul. But I still celebrate the life I have found because they are gone. I have lost, but I have also gained. I lost the world I loved, but I gained a deeper awareness of grace. That grace has enabled me to clarify my purpose in life and rediscover the wonder of the present moment.” ~ from A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser

Last year, Thanksgiving fell four days after our daughter’s stillbirth, followed by Christmas a month later. I vividly remember sitting at our family’s Thanksgiving dinner table, pushing my food around on its plate and trying desperately not to start sobbing. The world seemed to be throwing a party around me, but the last thing I felt like doing was celebrating.

It didn’t take me long to start looking for help. I searched for resources on babyloss and grief to guide me through the loss I had never imagined we’d have to endure. One of those resources Jerry Sitter’s book on traumatic loss, A Grace Disguised. This book proved to be foundational as I learned what loss and grief could mean to me — that, though my daughter’s death was horrible and terrifying and excruciating, blessings could be found in the midst of my pain. This book was realistic and yet hopeful, guiding me through the hard questions that death provokes while refusing to entertain pat answers. I was and remain very encouraged by Sittser’s words.

Find Beth here: blog / facebook / twitter / shop

To enter the giveaway for a copy of “A Grace Disguised” please use the Rafflecopter below.

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