I visited the cemetery yesterday. I spent the two-hour drive, listening to the angelic voices of the Vienna Boys Choir singing Ave Maria, and other Advent Hymns and picturing all the children who have left us too soon, circled around the feet of God, faces uplifted in glorious song.
I decided that today, I would throw it out there and honor Micaiah by doing two things. First, by asking the people who read and are blessed by this blog to make a donation in his name, to feed the malnourished children in the Philippines. These are the kids who have been served as a result of his death –the reason I became a trauma chaplain. So far, I have gotten less than $300 in donations – not enough to provide Advent Hope for a thousand plus kids. So please share this blog, and help me spread the word. Tax deductible donations can be made at:
For some last-minute Christmas shopping without the lines, you can also purchase Yankee Candles. 40% of the price of the candle is donated back to us, and as you know, 100% of what we get goes directly to the kids. The candle funds will purchase chickens and garden seeds for sustainable food for families.
You can order through December 13th for Christmas delivery and in time for Advent Feeding.
I said “two things” so here is how number TWO plays out:
There are few things I would like to tell you about moms who have lost infants. There is never a one size fits all in grief – ever – but these are few things common to many moms who have lost any baby preterm, at birth, or shortly thereafter.
As in all deaths, many of the same do’s and don’ts apply. I won’t list them here, they are written elsewhere and on my website.
- Our babies (usually) have a name.(Sometimes for cultural or personal reasons the baby isn’t named.) My son’s name is Micaiah. I love his name, and I never get to hear it in reference to him. Don’t be afraid to ask if our baby had a name and use it. (NOTE: As in all grief, never say “at least.” I have had people say to me, “At least he wasn’t like four of something.” “At least he didn’t suffer.” I’m not sure he didn’t suffer in the moments leading up to his death, but even if he didn’t, that really isn’t of any comfort.)
- About being “four”… Mothers of infants who have never had a chance to hold, or see our children living outside the womb don’t have many, if any, positive memories. I never saw my son open his eyes, or held him full of life in my arms. I never heard him cry. I never gave him a bath, or held him nursing at my breast. I never saw a first smile, heard a laugh, or the myriad of other moments that we take for granted. I have nothing positive to remember him by. Our memories are formed as we move into the future without them. Our memories are the ceremonies of remembrance, hearing their names spoken, and by having others remember them. That gives us positive memories to take with us.
- The day of birth is difficult for anyone to remember, but just like you may say to someone with a living child, “How old is your baby now?” you can also ask, “how old would your son be now?” If a Mom doesn’t want to talk about them, you will be able to tell, but most moms like to know our babies have been remembered.
- If you don’t remember the exact day, but you do remember the month or time of the year, you can also say, “It must be difficult for you this time of year remembering your son.” Most of us are thrilled that anyone remembers that we are missing an extra place setting at our table.
- You can purchase a small token gift in honor of the child. Today, there are Christmas ornaments for the deceased (I just ordered three.) My daughter started me a collection of Willow Tree figurines that have been a blessings. I think of Micaiah every time I gaze upon the little crafted angels.
- You can make a donation to a favorite charity in their name, beyond the day of the funeral as an act of remembrance for a birthday, or Christmas, or just because.
Christmas is a wonderful time to remember a loved one who is missing from this life. Be all things to all people, and maybe you’ll win some.
May the promise and peace of the Christ child move you to love in ways beyond your wildest dreams.