Every year, our family puts up our Christmas Tree. We get out the boxes of decorations–they are in red tubs with green lids, and each ornament is nestled in its original boxes—I am bragging about this area of my organization, as it is the only area I can brag about. 🙂 We make hot cocoa, have some cookies, and decorate our tree.
I love decorating the tree. We usually buy an ornament to commemorate a vacation we took, or a special trip we took and so decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane. We talk about the trip or remember the people who gave us the baby ornament, or any ornament we put up on our tree.
After Sean died, this usually wonderful tradition of decorating the tree became a tradition that led to grief. Every ornament became a memory with his memory attached. “Remember, we got this ornament when we took the trip to Florida and we went to Disney World?” Then I would remember how Sean wanted to go to Florida to Disney World so badly. There were T.V. shows on the Travel Channel highlighting the Disney Parks, and he would watch them over and over again.
“Mom, can we go to the Disney Parks?” “Well, Sean, you can pray about anything, so you can pray that we go to the Disney Parks.” In my mind, I didn’t know how this would ever happen, it seemed unlikely to say the least, but when Julia, my daughter told me all she wanted In the whole world was a baby sister, (she was 5 at the time), I told her the same thing—”well Julia, you can pray about anything, so pray for God to give you a baby sister.” I was thinking we could look into adoption. Instead I found myself pregnant at the age of 45, giving birth to a baby girl at the age of 46.
Sure enough, shortly after my son started praying to go to the Disney Parks, my sister-in-law called my husband and she wanted to plan a family trip with our families and their parents to go to the Disney Parks. (Their parents had a time share that we used the points from to book timeshares in Orlando, and my sister-in-law knew the websites to get the best deals on the Disney tickets—and so we found ourselves down in Florida—in the Disney Parks!!) We had a blast!! Sean had a blast!!
Looking at the ornaments–led to all those memories, which led to grief, but it also led to remembering the answered prayers as well. This helped us stand in the reality that God exists, and He loves us, He listens to us, He cares for us.
It was very difficult to continue with this tradition of decorating the tree. We celebrated our first Christmas without Sean a mere 3 months after we lost him. We were still in a state of shock. My husband and I thought we needed to continue with our traditions, that the children needed these things to bring the past into our present and our future. Even though it felt like everything had changed, some things remained the same. God’s love remained the same. We have found that each year, there is more of a blessing in the remembering, than grief. It has helped to bring Sean into our present and will help bring him into our future.
Just writing this story, I am remembering Julia praying for a baby sister, and God answered!! God does not always answer these types of prayers—as my nieces who were only daughters will attest—but He did for Julia. Perhaps because He knew that Julia and all of us would need this baby in the days to come, (our baby was 6 years old when her brother died.) She would bring us God’s comfort and love in her hugs and kisses and declarations that, “Sean is in heaven, and we are going to heaven too, we will see him again.”
Christmas is celebrating that God left heaven and came down to earth in the form of a baby. “Immanuel” means “God is with us.” In John 1: 1,14, we find this concept of : The Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
In Romans 8:31, it says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” In other words–it doesn’t matter who is against us, because God is so big and great, we are covered by Him.
Romans 8: 38, 39 also says– nothing can separate us from His love.
I am here to bear witness to these truths. God is With Us. God is For Us. Nothing—not death nor life, nor any created thing can separate us from His love. Not losing a child, or the grief that this loss brings, or any other problem in the entire world can separate us from His love.
If you are having trouble believing this, I want you to think about how much you love your children, and you are a mere human being. If you and I can love with such passion as imperfect human beings, imagine how a perfect, infinite being who considers us His children—loves us. It is not so hard to imagine when we think of it in those terms—is it?
However, God’s thoughts are greater than my thoughts, and His ways are greater than my ways. Sometimes, (ok—many times), I question God and what He is doing in my life. I questioned Him many times for taking my son. I have come to the realization that God is not upset with my questions, but sometimes His only answer is to wait on Him, and trust Him, even if I don’t know the answers, I can trust Him, I can trust His love, I can trust that He is for my family, He is for me.
You can trust that God is for you, He is for your family. You can trust in His love. He is “Immanuel”—God is with us—He is with us in our joy, in our grief and in our lives!! So Be encouraged!!