Greetings to you for this first week of Advent! I wanted to share some ideas on ways to brace for and embrace Christmas this year in this BC Catholic article, Creating Meaningful Traditions in the Midst of Grief & Uncertainty.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the shopping, the decorating, the baking, the cooking, the overbooking…let’s remember the real reason for Christmas.
Wishing you peace this Advent season as we prepare for the arrival of our greatest gift, Baby Jesus.
If this season is particularly difficult and you don’t want to do the shopping, decorating, baking etc. know that it is ok. It is part of the grieving process. For many years after we lost our son, I just couldn’t bring myself to put up the tree and do extra joyful “Christmas-y” activities. Other than going to Mass on Christmas Eve, I had to give myself permission to skip some of the traditions even though I felt pressured to “just be happy”.
I was “happy-sad” that my baby boy was going to experience Christmas in heaven and feel the pure joy of meeting baby Jesus himself. Oh how I miss you my beautiful Little Love, kiss Baby Jesus for us and feel our kisses fly up to heaven too.
*Note that at the end of this video, there is a young infant that is featured as Baby Jesus.
For some, Christmas is about the joy of having family and little ones around and for this reason, the holiday season can be difficult for those whose infants have died. Last evening, grieving parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends braved the cold, rainy weather and gathered in the warm atmosphere at St. Ann’s Parish for their 2nd annual Infant Remembrance Mass in Abbotsford.
This candlelight service was offered just a few days after Christmas on Dec.28th for the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Pastor James Hughes noted that it was not by mistake that this date was chosen for this special Mass.
During the service, families were invited to honour their infants by lighting a candle and placing the votives on a table in front of the altar. As more and more candles were set beside one another, the lights emitted a peaceful glow and dancing shadows were seen on the white table cloth during the Mass. Close by, the Infant Jesus was displayed in a manger with His arms stretched out to welcome us.
Well over 100 people attended this solemn event traveling from as far away as Washington State, the Sunshine Coast as well as parts of the Greater Vancouver area. Many people of various ages, backgrounds and faiths attended. “I wish we had a service like this in my community” a grieving mother said to me. “It is nice for our children to meet others who understand what it is like to lose a sibling,” another mom and dad shared.
In his homily, Father openly shared that he has grown to appreciate the need to reach out to families suffering from infant loss due to ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, fatal diagnosis, pregnancy complications, stillbirth, illness and sudden infant death. “These children are also considered ‘Holy Innocents’ and have the important role of praying for us” he explained. Father James went on to say that the pain of couples struggling with infertility also needs to be recognized. He also praised and prayed for bereavement support workers and professionals dedicated to assisting these families.
At the reception, families were invited to sign a Book of Life and choose a hand-decorated pot of forget-me-not flowers. It is important to note that when Devan Greenhouses heard what the plants were for, they insisted that the pots were to be donated as a gift from the nursery to bereaved families. The evening was kindly coordinated by Fr. James and a number of families at the Parish. We are thankful for so many blessings!
It was comforting to meet other bereaved parents and families at this event. I was happy to greet familiar faces and meet some new friends too. Thank you to the team of ladies led by Jody at St. Ann’s for organizing such a wonderful remembrance service for our children. Special thanks to Father Hughes for your amazing support.
Click here for a description of the 2010 Service.
Please see events page for future Infant Loss Services and other related events.
We rarely hear songs from St. Joseph’s perspective. The song Joseph’s Lullaby by Mercy Me is a beautiful way to capture the moment when a father, after much anticipation, finally gets to hold his newborn baby.
It describes the Holy Family in a way that we can easily relate to — in a very ordinary and human way. We envision a first-time father in complete awe as he gently holds his brand new son and we witness him asking The Lord for the protection of his innocent child. Joseph, knowing that there are great plans for his infant son one day, humbly prays;
I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child
The tenderness that is shown towards Baby Jesus by His father is a peaceful scene of pure and unconditional love. I have faith that this is just a glimpse of the immense love that Jesus has for each and every one of us. It can be overwhelming to know that someone can love us beyond comprehension. How do we return that kind of love?
I hope this song brings a bit of comfort to the daddy’s out there who are missing their children this Christmas. Know that your children also love and miss you..and can’t wait to greet you in heaven one day.
Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head
Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Or does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?
Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace
I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
But Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child
Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You’ll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight
Merry Christmas my love! You are the best father Keaton could ever have…