(Topic: Grief, Religion, Christmas, Pregnancy)
Christmas, and particularly the figure of Mary, can be a bit complicated to come to terms with after experiencing infant loss. I’ve written about this before, exploring how the themes of pregnancy and happy arrival can be very difficult for a loss parent. I’ve felt sad, during the Christmas season, and I’ve felt bitter, and I’ve felt jealous. I struggle with this, since the overwhelming cultural push is to be Merry TM. So it’s difficult when you don’t fit that mold, and feel doubly bad – first, just the feelings you’re feeling, and second, guilt that you aren’t happy like you “should be”.
This year, though, while talking to a pastor yet again to see if I could figure out a way through the season with less emphasis on jealousy and bitterness, I had an idea, a thought, about Mary and her relationship to Jesus, that just might help.
You see, although Judaism as a religion does not seem to really mark birthdays, and ancient Judaism probably not either, it occurred to me that, as a Christian, we are marking Jesus’ birthday in the holiday of Christmas. And it occurred to me that Jesus is not actually born every year – we are remembering the birthday of one who, long ago, lived then died (then lived again, then went away to heaven). He is gone from Mary’s presence and ultimately ours, and we hope, someday, after death to be reunited.
How is that different from me marking Charlie’s birthday every year??
It occurred to me that in some ways, it’s not. Obviously, Jesus is more widely admired and remembered than Charlie, but when it comes to the feelings I go through, it’s viscerally the same: We miss them, we remember them, and we hope (in Christian Hope) to be reunited someday, after our earthly days, at the heavenly river.
I don’t actually know if this mindset will help me not feel jealous and bitter this year, but it felt like such a lightning bolt of inspiration and hope, and felt so right, that I have the feeling it might be just the perspective shift I needed.
May this holiday season fall peacefully upon you, regardless of which religion you follow and which traditions feel heavy. May peace rest in your soul.
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