When Christmas is Wrapped With Grief

The hallow blow came in the midst of the Christmas hum.

Baking, wrapping, listening to music and harmonizing along at the top of our lungs; sweet moments together tucked in around the corners of prepararations for our holiday were being found in abundance. With my parents visiting, the children were able to play and go iceskating with them while Josh and I headed out to finish shopping together, take in a steamy latte, and hold hands as we walked past vendors and the wafting smell of roasted chestnuts in the middle of the afternoon. I was thrilled to be able to take in the smells and sights of the city slowly with him and choose something special to awaken wonder in the eyes of our little ones.

That we would have a routine pregnancy check-up snuck into our date was a fleeting thought, we were just focused on being able to take in time together fully on the town. As I rode to meet my husband, my stomach started churning. I had been feeling for quite a while that this pregnancy was different. I wasn’t nearly as sick as I had been with the other children. I continued to tell my doctor that I just didn’t “feel” pregnant. After two sonograms with a healthy baby and several check-ins with a steady heartbeat in my doctor’s office, I was determined to be thankful that I was well into my second trimester and doing so well.

But something stirred in my heart in that taxi soaring up Park Avenue. I could discern an audible whisper, deep in my heart, “I’m here, I love you. I am still the same today as yesterday.” I began to shake and a tear streamed down my face. I knew that God was speaking something to me. I knew what He was asking. “Will you still trust me? Will you still rest in me?” I didn’t want to answer Him. So, I texted my husband. He was running late, likely not able to meet me until after my appointment.

Arriving at my doctor’s office I sat before the lights of the Christmas tree in front of a warm fire, sipping a cup of coffee from their mack-daddy Keurig. The nurse came out to bring me a brownie: they had received too many gifts from patients that day to eat themselves. I considered how rare this place was. I felt like I was in a home. I actually took a picture and posted it online because a place like this, so cozy and kind seemed unreal.

And then I waited. I waited a long time. Apparently, a computer glitch made it impossible for my records to be found. So, as the only patient there on the last office day before Christmas, what should have taken moments, became an hour.

I waited exactly long enough for my husband, nearly 45 minutes away, to join me for the sonogram.

Kindness, again. I wasn’t alone.

And he held my hand, not on the streets taking in sights, but tightly in those minutes of seeing our baby on the screen. This time with more pronounced form, sweet hands visible, head tucked at the chin…but still. No heart beat.

The hallow blow. It flattens you.

Once I could form words again, these are the ones that poured out in my journal, and then in a letter to our family and close friends:

It seems strange to celebrate and be feasting at a time when our hearts are naturally full of sadness and loss. But we are remembering the beauty of Christmas in this. Our lives are messy. They are complicated. They are broken. And the beauty of this season of Advent, of waiting and preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus, is that he does indeed come! He cuts right through the hurting of our hearts, the darkness of our communities, the bleakness of our sin and he is Emmanuel; God with us.

And so we are remembering more than ever it seems, that His coming matters. It matters to us every day in our grouchy moments, in the ones that catch us with guilt, in the times that bring us to a place of being undone. This year we are laying aside the Christmas Eve meal I would have liked to have made, the last minute bustling  to wrap gifts. I’m not worrying about checking off my list the frosting of cookies to perfection, or having everything in place for Christmas morning. We are remembering at our core what is really important. We have to. The juxtaposition of Christ’s coming and saying goodbye to our little one reminds us of our desperate need for Jesus to be here with us. We are desperate for him alone.

Are you desperate for Jesus to come this Christmas? Are you desperate for him in your grief, and in your sorrow? When the joy of Christmas seems to have run dry, remember that in his wondrous appearance there is hope for all things to be made right, all our loss to be restored.

He has come. Emmanuel.

Praying for your hearts today,


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