This will be my seventh Christmas without June. It’s crazy to think I’ve spent more Christmases without her than with her. It doesn’t make it easier; it just becomes different as the years go by. In case it might help those experiencing loss during this time of year, I thought I’d share how I honor June during the holidays.
1. Hang her stocking.
I was shocked that some grieving parents didn’t know if it was “OK” to hang their child’s stocking. June will always be my child, so I will always hang hers on the mantle with pride. Plus, I needlepoint each of my kids' stockings, and I started June’s when I was pregnant with her and finished it right before her last Christmas. It’s been at doctors' appointments and hospital stays; it is a part of our journey. Like all things with grief, though, whatever feels right and good to you is always OK and normal.
2. Hang her ornaments and display her holiday artwork.
Similar to the mantle, the tree is like a trip down memory lane with each child. I love pulling out all of my kids' ornaments and remembering the significance of each, especially the ones from June.
3. Share presents from June!
In our house, June brings the boys a present each year, and they love it. I always find pink or ladybug wrapping paper and leave them under the tree. I figure if we can tell our kids a man comes to our house on a flying sleigh guided by reindeer, what’s so bad about telling them June sends two presents with him?
4. Talk about her.
At Christmas, we spend a lot of time talking about June and other children with similar conditions. I especially like it when friends and family talk about her to me or ask questions about June.
5. Talk or write to your loved one.
I have conversations with June in the car and on walks. I also write her notes in my journal. I do this regularly, but I find extra time to do so during the holidays. It makes me feel her presence more.
Each Christmas is different, and it’s hard to know which ones will hurt the most. The first one was almost unbearable, and the fourth was especially hard as well. This year, I feel pretty good so far. Remember, it’s OK to not be OK, and it’s OK to be OK.
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