A Bereaved Parent’s Christmas


I’ve been sitting here, listening to Christmas music, and thinking about our Christmases since Jason died.

The first Christmas when I was so numb, hurting so bad, and at a total loss on how to “do” Christmas any more without our precious boy. Finding a chair in the corner at a Christmas party and trying to figure out how not to be the “wet blanket” at the celebration…and trying to be social so people would quit avoiding me – I failed miserably at both of those attempts. Sitting all by myself in the midst of the Christmas decorations strewn all over our family room floor, crying my eyes out as I tried to figure out whether it hurt more to put up or not put up the stockings and decorations we’d collected over the years. The friend who stopped by to pick something up while I was sitting there on the floor, surrounded by decorations and grief, and who couldn’t get out the door quickly enough after she collected what she had come for. When absolutely everything about Christmas emphasized Jason’s missing presence and pierced me to the bottom of my very soul. Picturing Jason helping pick out and put up the tree. He was the one who put our angel up on top of the tree every year. I was supposed to teach him how to make my “famous” Christmas morning cinnamon rolls and I added my heartbroken tears to the dough that year. Everything about that Christmas hurt to the core of my being.

The Christmases when I tried to shop, but couldn’t figure out how to pull up any enthusiasm, and left the stores empty-handed and trying to keep my emotions and tears in check until I could get into a private place. The ones when I fought down panic as I tried to shop for presents. The one when we couldn’t travel to extended family and they couldn’t travel to us…and no one had time amidst their own holiday hustle and bustle to do anything with us. One gal told me they would have time the week after Christmas. That was a bad Christmas.

The ones when I drove by brightly-lit houses as families or friends arrived for some type of Christmas celebration, watching people hug each other with the joy of the season…while I felt like an outside observer to the warmth, welcome and celebration of the whole season in general. The warmth and glow of the season seemed like it was for others and not me. Ours used to be the home brightly lit and welcoming, so full of family, love and laughter. I used to look forward to Christmas so so much excitement. It seemed as though I “used to do” many things that no longer applied to me. I struggled for many years as I approached so many Christmases with dread…wishing I could just skip over the whole thing, knowing how acutely and painfully I would miss Jason’s presence. Some days it was more than I could bear.

Christmases are hard for bereaved parents. The memories of what “used to be” are ever present and everywhere. I miss the pure excitement of a Christmas without the shadow of loss.

Christmas doesn’t hurt as much as it once did. I wish I could say it didn’t hurt any more, but that wouldn’t be honest. It’s been a process over the years to make new traditions while not totally scrapping the old. I haven’t gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for years – perhaps I will sometime in the future. We have started some new traditions and have started a new collection of Christmas tree ornaments. We try to make Christmas a special and meaningful day and season as best we can for those we love. We try to notice the small things and don’t take anything for granted.

We will always miss Jason every day, and especially during the Christmas season feel his loss acutely, wishing he were celebrating Christmas with us. I’m sure every bereaved parent would say the same thing about his or her own child…

Merry Christmas to each bereaved parent who may read this. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

25 thoughts on “A Bereaved Parent’s Christmas

  1. My heart aches for you, Rebecca. Know that you are thought about and prayed for. Thank you for this reminder that so many among us are hurting, especially bereaved parents. May God comfort you in this holiday season as only He can.

  2. As another bereaved parent, I certainly feel your pain. I agree with the process of emotions,. Time doesn;t heal ALL wounds. I have felt so numb this year. I just want it to be over.Im not real good at “faking” any kind of joy, even with 5 grandkids, 5 living kids. a brand new little one, a teen to spend time with, it is all just a smack in my m face, again, at how unfair life is, how my son was cheated, how God seemed to fail him and me. How everything, every day is BEFORE or AFTER that impossible day. You said it very well, thanks, for all of us who, at least inwardly, feel more like it is the hell-a-days than the holidays. beebeesworld

  3. You’re in my thoughts and prayers, Rebecca, as you navigate another difficult holiday season. Know that Jason is smiling down on you from his new home…and know that you’re always loved. Peace and blessings be with you.

  4. Thank you for sharing, Rebecca. I’ve finally accepted that my Christmases will never be the same since my Patrick’s death in 2011. I am grateful that I’m not crying all of the time anymore–just periodically, and usually not in front of anyone. Hopefully, if I live long enough, the joy of the Lord will come back to me. Thanks again and may God richly bless you and yours.

  5. Time heals the wounds of the heart, but doesn’t make it easier to accept the scars. I lost a son in 2007 and understand your sorrow. God bless and my best wishes to you for a wonderful 2013.

    • In reading the many comments to this blog,, I realize how many of us are going through this impossibl4e grief, Sometimes it makes me feel selfish that I feel such pain, the pointless agony, but then I know we all handle things differently. Each message of caring helps.

  6. Pingback: “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” | Grief: One Woman's Perspective

  7. Hello Rebecca… Every single word you wrote struck a cord inside me. This will be our 8th Christmas without Nathan who was just 16 when he died in an RTA.
    Family and friends expect you to move forward, but I cannot. It’s so very difficult to come to terms with the fact we will never have a happy Christmas again.
    Sending you lots of cares and understanding

  8. We lost our Son, William, on August 23, 2012. We love and miss him so much.

    Thank you for all of the help each one of you provide to bereaved parents. You can be the only person that a parent can actually identify with on this lonely road we find ourselves on.

    We wish each of you peace and comfort as another new year begins.

  9. Reblogged this on Grief: One Woman's Perspective and commented:

    I wrote this five years ago, and find it still true today. Some Christmases are seem to be more difficult than others, depending on what’s going on at the time or what we have walked through during the year. This year has been a difficult and stressful one for me, with some unexpected events or circumstances that have hurt me deeply. As a result, this Christmas has been a difficult one.

    I’ve had a harder than usual time pulling it together – gift purchasing, enthusiasm level, etc. I still get the panic-y feeling that hits me the first time I walk down the Christmas aisle at the stores, and it hit me hard this year. My energy level and enthusiasm have been low. I’m doing the best I can, but still feel like it’s not enough. Not the same, as though it could ever be. Even as long as I’ve been at this, I tend to subconsciously have the misconception that it should get easier with time. It does, but it still ebbs and flows, rises and falls, hits hard and subsides a bit.

    Hugs to all of you this Christmas.


  10. Thinking of you Becky & my best wishes to you & your family for Christmas. I hope 2018 is less stressful & brings good health & peace. Much love, Janice xx

  11. Pingback: Sweet Memories | Grief: One Woman's Perspective

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