The Mingling of Joy & Sorrow During the Holidays

Christmas is a season filled with joy, celebration, merriment, and festivities. It can also be a time filled with grief, sorrow, and longing. More often than not, it is filled with all of the above at the exact same time.

Walking into the Christmas season has been different for both of us this year. Sarah is adjusting to life as a new mom and I am awaiting the arrival of our baby girl in March. Along with being in a season of joyful anticipation for our newest little one, Trey & I are also being reminded of the loss of our first baby. Today, December 20th, would have been my due date had we not miscarried. As this date has gotten closer and closer, I have been filled with so many different emotions. Christmas is by far my very favorite time of the year, but this year has just been harder. I thought that because I am pregnant, it would just be filled with even more joy than usual and while, yes, absolutely, there is a whole new level of excitement as we receive gifts for her and as we dream up what next year will look like, it has also been really hard for me. I don’t feel my best, I am struggling with anxiety and fear about pregnancy after our loss, and I am often thinking about what this season would look like had I not woken up on April 18th to the sad reality that our baby was gone.

Getting pregnant so soon after we miscarried has definitely been such a gigantic blessing that I am so unbelievably grateful for, but at the very same time, it has brought about a lot of conflicting emotions. I know that I would not be carrying Collins had we not miscarried. It’s hard to process that. I feel like I know Collins. I feel her moving and growing. We’ve seen her face on the ultrasound. She has a name. I can’t imagine not being pregnant with her. But, what about our first? I want him or her, too. It’s just such a weird and hard thing to process and sort through. As we have gotten closer to today’s date, I have been having a lot of flashbacks to everything that happened earlier this year -- discovering that he/she was gone, the physical pain of miscarriage, and the all of the emotions that came with. My miscarriage has also caused a lot of fear surrounding this pregnancy. I will be so excited to meet a milestone but I often find myself fighting off a sense of dread mere days or sometimes even just minutes later fearing the worst. It has been such a huge rollercoaster of emotion and a hard-fought battle to trust the Lord during this season and I know that my faith is being refined in the process. If I’m being honest though, I wish He would have chosen a different way to go about all of this.

This is not the first time I have walked through grief or loss around the holidays, but it’s still been hard to process pain when you feel as though you should just be so overflowing with joy at every possible second. As I said before, this is my very favorite time of the year and I seriously look forward to the next year’s holiday season as soon as one ends and yet it’s just been hard for me to “get into the holiday spirit” this year. We’ve watched the Christmas movies, we’re doing an Advent study, our house is decked out, Christmas music is on a loop, and yet I’m just not all there mentally this year.

And you know what, that’s ok.

My personality type is one that likes to stuff down any negative emotions or feelings (any other Enneagram 7s out there?) and it’s an area I am really trying to grow in. A part of this, for me, is being ok with not feeling totally there & attempting to stuff Christmas cheer down my own throat in an effort to make myself feel better and to hurt less. It’s been a hard yet good year and it takes nothing away from this season or the celebration of our Savior if I’m struggling a little bit. In fact, when I look at the Christmas story, I see such a marriage of hope, pain, fear, joy, and anxiety.

So, where does that leave me? Or what do I do with all of this?

Well, I’m still trying to figure the balance between it all, but ultimately, I’m going to celebrate while feeling the pain of loss & grieve amidst the joy. I am giving myself grace for the things that I haven’t done or that I wish I would have gotten to this year. I’m not listening to the voice inside my head that tells me how I’m feeling is wrong. I’m soaking in the moments that are fun while also trying to be present when it hurts. And ultimately, I’m looking to our Savior who came to us in a manger and who will one day come again and wipe away all the pain and sorrow.

If you’re walking through a season of hardship, grief, loss, or longing just know that you are not alone. Or maybe it’s not a hard season, but just a year where you aren’t feeling completely present in all the festivities. I just want you to know it’s ok. Give yourself space to feel all the things that you need to feel. Celebrate in a way that feels authentic to you where you’re at. Know that Jesus sees you where you’re at & that one day when He returns and brings about a new heaven and a new earth. And, when that happens it will be the merriest of Christmases every single day of the year… or at least that would be what my version of heaven would be like!