Christmas After the Loss of a Child

December 23, 2010
Cheryl Darnell

Amid all the Christmas shopping, decorating, caroling, pageants, anticipation and excitement, there is also a very real sadness that Christmas evokes in some people. For families in financial stress, you hear, "Oh, they won't get to have a Christmas this year." And what about celebrating the holidays when a loved one has died? The first Christmas after our son died of SIDS, I thought, "How can I possibly enjoy Christmas this year? Christmas just won't be the same."

While grief certainly affects our emotions as we experience the holidays, and while feelings of deep sadness are definitely expected and natural (I still cry over our baby Billy), we do not have to remain in a state of despair. Grief and tragedy do not dictate whether or not Christmas happens. Read this excerpt from the Christmas story in Luke 1:30-33 and 2:8-14--

The angel Gabriel tells Mary, "...you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christa the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14“Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Christmas is not something that happens IF we have money for it and IF all is "right" in our world and IF we are emotionally stable and IF we are not walking in the midst of brokenheartedness. Christmas already happened- period. And in fact, it happened BECAUSE of our broken world. Christ was born to save us from the hurt and tragedy and despair that He knew we would face. And with Him came promises of unimaginable hope and unspeakable joy- for everyone. Because Jesus was born, we have the promise of being with our babies again- for all of eternity!

We have great reason to join with those angels praising God. The loneliness we feel with our babies gone is but for a moment on this earth- thanks to the humble birth-and death- of another precious Child.

The death of my son did change my experience of Christmas. Even while I deeply miss my Billy, Christmas has become actually more real and more wonderful.

Merry Christmas to you.

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