Grief and Christmas
By: Katlyn Hudgins
Trigger warning: baby loss, miscarriage, grieving during the holidays
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings. These are a few of my favorite things.”
Winter festivals, fairy lights, hot chocolates, fluffy socks, watching my kids make snowballs, dinner with extended family, late night drives when we can see our breath and watch the stars, snuggling up with my loves while sitting near the fire to make s’mores, reading each chapter of Luke leading up to the day we celebrate the birth of our Savior. I am a huge fan of all things that have to do with wintertime holidays. Christmas and Hanukkah are my thing. Some of my all-time favorite memories are around Christmas time.
Yet, at the same time my heart is heavy. I have pieces of my heart that will never be filled until I am basking in the light of eternity because I have four babies waiting for me heavenside. Two of those four babies were due at Christmas time. The closer we draw to the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the closer I get to the day that is simultaneously joyous and mourning all at the same time.
I wonder if that is how Mary felt when she had Jesus. Joyous to hold her miraculous baby boy in her arms; but mourning in the flesh because she knew one day He would die too.
When we lost our first baby I was six weeks and four days along. With our second and third loss it was twins and we lost them at nine weeks. With our fourth loss our daughter was seventeen weeks and three days. She was due around the new year; so around this time of year I start to feel heavy hearted, missing her. Wondering what it would have been like to hold her body when it was whole.
With my first three losses I remember never really asking why. I mourned and grieved but I carried on, not needing to know why. Not feeling the need to have anyone understand me either. I just accepted it as what it was. Love and loss wrapped up in a single package. However, when we lost our daughter Elizabeth it was traumatic and I ended up with PTSD from her birth. Through my therapy to deal with the memories I had to ask the hard questions, the ones I didn’t ask before. I still never asked why but I remember asking, “Am I alone?”
My strongest memory of that time is taking a shower for the first time after Elizabeth was born. I remember staring down at my swollen aching belly as the red tinged water poured down the drain. I couldn’t even speak as I crumpled to my knees, heavy primal sobs wrenched from my chest. I couldn’t form words to pray. I couldn’t form coherent thoughts. The only thing that poured through me is the words, “Christ alone, cornerstone. Weak made strong in the Savior's love. Through the storm He is Lord. Lord of all.” The rawness of my broken heart, body, and mind made me feel so empty. Absolutely nothing left of me except those lyrics. My cornerstone. I was torn to shreds in my grief, my house bashed by the storms and yet my cornerstone still stood. It was all I needed. I knew I wasn’t alone and that became my prayer.
In all of my grief, my biggest prayer was please don’t leave me alone.
The Lord of creation ministered directly to my heart during this time of emptiness. He told me, “My daughter, I will never leave you alone. I, too, watched My Child die in the most horrific manner. My Son was broken to heal hers, to make her whole again. She is with Me for the rest of eternity. I knit her limbs anew, created in her a new heart, and restored her life. A life that will last forever. One day you will come to her and I will introduce you to the daughter you barely knew. And yes, she does have your hands.”
I wasn’t alone. Not in my grief. Not in her death.
My Cornerstone saw me and understood me. He is my El Roi, The God Who Sees Me.
It sounds strange that Christmas time, a time filled with my favorite things, would remind me of such a deep darkness inside of my grief. But it feels like it is all one package now. The time when El Roi makes me feel most seen. My favorite things and my darkest pains brimming to the surface of my heart, all at once; sometimes it is over whelming.
The birth of Christ did that for me.
He did that for my daughter, Elizabeth.
It is such a miracle to have that happen for us and all of that grief and life poured out into such a tiny infant given to a young, unwed mother. She was the mother who knew complete joy and complete pain all in the same tiny bundle. Our Heavenly Father knows and understands both all too well.
I think many of us carry a heavy heart this time of the year. Christmas is both beautiful and hard for many people. Whether it’s the loss of a parent, spouse, child, sibling, or friend, maybe a divorce or separation, even the burden of losing a job and not being able to do everything you want. Sometimes even the Christmas lights are dim without a cause and we just have a heavy heart. You have sisters in NCM praying for you. We know Christmas time can be hard. We want you to know that you are not alone. Our El Roi knows your heartache and counts every tear.
You are loved. You are seen.
Our Cornerstone sees you and understands you. He is your El Roi.
If you are having a hard time during this season and need a friend to talk to or any resources for help please email NCM at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us through our Facebook page Natural Christian Mommas Community.