Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remembering at Christmas

It's been a bit of a struggle lately to come up with ways to remember Henry at Christmas.  It's the same problem we have in our daily thoughts of him, just that the holidays set a sense of timing about it all.  We want to think of him, but the thoughts inevitably hover on what isn't instead of what is.  I'd love to think that we could control that impulse - to continually be grateful and happy for the time we had with him without feeling a sense of lacking without him.

It sounds ridiculous, I know, but somehow I wish it were possible.  Like remembering when your children were younger, recalling how they used to throw food on the floor at dinner or how they used to say certain words in their particular way.  You remember, smile and place that little sticky note memory on the current version of your child and can be happy about the times you've experienced together.  I guess I don't really know what the comparison is, but there's just not a happy place to put those sticky notes for Henry.  We do smile when we think of him, but there is no future with which to be content in additional experiences.  It's an incredibly difficult balance to find.  Perhaps impossible...

Anyway, this year we've opted to spend Christmas in an unconventional way, doing something different than our normal traditions would entail.    It's worked for us to varying degrees at Halloween and Thanksgiving, so we're going to give it a try this December too.  However we still want to include him.  We've mustered the energy to decorate a bit.  We've put his stocking up over the fireplace.  At Thanksgiving, one of the mothers at the bereavement group we go to at Hopkins mentioned she lit candles and kept them burning all day in memory of children she's known who've died.  We adopted that at Thanksgiving as well and expect to do the same at Christmas.  It was comforting.

I wanted something a bit more for Christmas though.  I wanted to feel his presence a bit more tangibly.  I bought a small Christmas tree and we've decorated it with his ornaments and some of the small projects he painted.  It's turned out to be a really nice tribute.

So I guess we're finding ways of coping, strategies for managing grief, which I suppose is all we're able to do.  It's not going away, it's not going to magically one day be 'OK'.  We're not going to suddenly only have happy memories.  It's just not the reality of it all.  But I guess we'll be able to find ways to cope.


Anonymous said...

I think of you all often and wonder how you all are doing! The tree was a great idea and Henry sure would have loved that little tree! Shelly

Amy said...

The "Henry" tree is really special. I am really glad that you found peace making this tree part of your holiday celebrations and that it brought you all some comfort. Henry's handmade ornaments and models are so precious.

I must also say that I like the sunshine pictured in the background of your photo.

Wishing you all a Christmas filled with warm memories and special moments shared with those near and dear to you.

Anonymous said...

I'm wishing that the spirit of this holiday will bring you comfort, peace, and new happy memories with the girls- and memories of Henry.

The future holds memories for you, Tara, and the girls- finding ways to remember Henry during your new experiences will always be important, and hopefully comforting. I love the tree you have made to remember him this Christmas.

I wish your family smiles, laughs, hugs and happy new and old memories on Christmas, and always!

Anonymous said...

Once again, I am reminded of what an amazing family you are. It is so important to be able to keep Henry with you but in a way that may help ease the pain a little instead of making it worse at this time of year. The tree is perfect. I hope you and your family are able to enjoy the holidays - we will be thinking of you and praying for you, as always.

Anonymous said...

I thought of Henry on Christmas and lit a candle on our mantle for him