Lydia Grace

Lydia Grace
Our first child, Lydia Grace

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas with Family

    My husband and I celebrated Christmas with his family this weekend. He needed to go to H-town for work and I decided to go with him. We had Christmas with my mother-in-law andfamily on Friday evening, then Christmas with my father-in-law, his wife, and family on Saturday evening. How can I describe the Christmas gatherings? 

   Incredibly painful. It almost felt like that first week or two after losing Lydia. The loss was very pronounced, her absence keenly felt, any joy in the holiday completely gone. Being around so many people and children was overwhelming. It was nice to see family and would have likely been easier had it not been to celebrate Christmas. 
   I am thankful for a moment I had with my mother-in-law on Friday evening. Children, noise, activity became too overwhelming. I went to lie down in the guest room. She followed me in and laid on the bed with me, hugging me and trying to offer comfort. I was able to tell her how much I missed Lydia and how much this Christmas hurt without her. We also talked about the loss of her baby and how she felt the first Christmas after her loss 28 years ago. 
   Unless you have lost a child, I don't think you can understand how pervasive the pain is during the holidays. EVERYTHING is painful. Seeing parents with their children is a sharper reminder that you do not have your child with you. I could not watch the children exchanging and opening presents. There is a searing, unending, pain in my broken heart. All the parents are naturally focused on their children, their excitement, taking pictures. I am just as focused on my daughter, but I don't get to help her open presents, take pictures with her, share in her joy and awe. I felt so empty the entire weekend. 

Lydia's lamb in her crib
Then there were pictures of the grandchildren. I really wanted to throw a temper tantrum at that point, scream and break things. Where was my daughter? Is she not a grandchild? Aren't you forgetting her? This picture isn't complete! I couldn't be around for that either. It wasn't until that moment I thought of it, but I wished I had some symbol of Lydia to include in those pictures. Maybe her picture or her stuffed lamb. I just so desperately wanted her to be remembered amidst everyone's joy and focus on their own children. It was awful. I did not take a single picture the entire weekend. I usually take many for my scrapbooks. It felt to meaningless and  I had no interest or motivation to take any. 
   A relative with a newborn came at one point on Saturday evening. Within one minute, my husband and I got up and walked out of the house. IT HURTS SO MUCH! And the younger the child, the more painful (at least for me).  
   Another more soothing point in this emotionally exhausting weekend was when my husband and I opened our Christmas gift from his father and step-mother. It was a Willow Tree "Remember" figure. It made me cry. I don't want family who read this to think we hated seeing them and that the gatherings were terrible, we did enjoy seeing family, but it brought so much sadness and pain, it was a struggle to make it through. 
   I was relieved to arrive home Sunday afternoon. I did not want to get out of bed this morning. I felt listless, sad, brokenhearted. It feels good to be back somewhere safe. The weekend definitely reassured me of my decision not to celebrate Christmas with my family. Grieving parents need their own Christmas. People who haven't been there might think it's better to spend holidays with family for comfort. I found little to no comfort. I don't know what we were thinking attempting it this past weekend. I've never seen my husband that sad in public. Leaving the last Christmas gathering Saturday evening, his whole body slumped over in the seat testified to his emotional exhaustion and sadness he felt. To sum up the Christmas celebration, as my husband bluntly put it: It sucked. 


  1. It helps that your husband is a man in touch with his feelings (as a future counselor). For my hubby's family, their way of coping was silence and laughter... my husband hides his sadness from his parents. for a while I tried to understand but as a mom I was angry like you that no one knew how alone grief is when family act like nothing has happened. I forced myself to go to my husband's traditional Asian gatherings last year and I saw my mother in law play with another toddler girl cousin. That was a stab in my heart. Hubby's cousin has another newborn this year and I told my mom in law that I was NOT participating this New YEar's. Sorry to say so much. I feel for you and your husband...

  2. PS - that is a beautiful lamb for you said, maybe it is a good idea to include a reminder of your girl with grandchildren pictures. (: