Christmas for the Grieving


I love Christmas! There is something so magical about this time of year! Decorated Christmas trees, traditional holiday music, falling snow, hot chocolate and cookies, stockings hung over the kindled fireplace, sparkling lights decorating rooftops, the pure joy in the eyes of your children, and so much more…  I LOVE Christmas! I have quite literally been counting down to December since July of this year! While I can still easily find the magic in the Season, Christmas time can take on a more dismal role in the lives of those who are actively grieving.


I remember my first Christmas after Emilia died (December 2017).  I had recently found out that I was newly pregnant with my now three-year-old daughter, Roselyn.  I was filled with so many conflicting feelings.  Sadness for losing my second born child, while also excited – yet terrified – at the news of the baby that I was at that time carrying.  After putting my eldest daughter to bed each night, I would tip toe down the stairs and just sit and stare at our Christmas tree for what felt like hours.  There was some kind of overwhelming peace that would come over me as I threw myself into the quiet Christmas spirit that helped shake the sadness and fear away during those cold December nights.


I began my first Christmas after loss by including Emilia in all aspects of the season.  While Emilia didn’t receive any presents that year, we still made sure she had a stocking (just like the rest of our family) and over the years we have collected several different ornaments that remind us of her.  We even have a little red-headed angel at the entrance of our home.  We like to think of our angel as Emilia.  Watching over us, always with us, never far even during the most mundane moments in our lives.  I think the Christmas items that we have created to represent Emilia are what still make the holiday special.  Christmas could easily feel ruined by loss and grief, but the way we have incorporated Emilia into our yearly traditions has made the holiday still magical.


How do you help keep the magic and spirit of Christmas time aflame after experiencing a tremendous loss? Feel free to share your ornaments, stockings, or other Christmas decor that represent the ones you miss and love in the comments section of this post.  We would love to see how you celebrate the season! Posted below are our most treasured Christmas items for Emilia and some traditions we have begun in her memory! My hope is that some of these items would give you your own inspiration to include your departed loved ones in new Christmas traditions.  Perhaps these items and traditions can help you re-spark that wonderful Christmas magic that makes this time of year so incredibly special!



Emilia has her own stocking.  Can you find it hidden among the stockings? It’s the white stocking, third from the left.  No different from the rest of our family, as she is equally a member of The Cloughs.  Notice the white stocking with the blank name tag on the very far right? This stocking is reserved for the baby boy who we are anxiously waiting to be born this February 2022!


Do you have a stocking for your angel baby? If so, does Santa fill your baby’s stocking? What special items do you find in your baby’s stocking on Christmas morning?



Christmas morning has arrived and we are all eagerly anticipating to unwrap the wonderful goodies that Santa has placed under our trees and in our stockings.  Santa never disappoints in our house and Santa never forgets to include Emilia! Here is a photo of Emilia’s stocking each Christmas morning.  When Emilia was born, the hospital staff gave her a little yellow bunny named “Grace”.  Wherever Emilia went, Grace went too.  To this day, bunnies remain a beautiful symbol to us of Emilia.  We were able to keep the original “Grace” to remind us of Emilia and the moments we shared with her in the hospital.  In our house, Santa always includes Grace and a letter for our family in her stocking.  The letter mentions Emilia, how he never forgets ALL of the babies who live and grow in Heaven, and how he makes a special trip each year on Christmas Eve to see all of Jesus’ babies. 


Click here to view our Santa Letter.



Here is our Emilia Angel! My dad found this angel at a garage sale and it immediately reminded him of Emilia.  He gifted the angel to our family, hoping that she would also remind us of Emilia and that her presence in our home might bring peace to our hearts during the Christmas season.  Originally the angel had blonde hair.  Our Emilia had a beautiful shade of strawberry blonde locks.  It was an easy fix for me… I took some orange paint and made our angel a beautiful red head just like Emilia! Each year we place our Emilia Angel right next to our front door.  She serves as a reminder that even though Emilia is not physically in our home, she is always with us.  Watching over us and celebrating special moments with us, as she is always a part of our family.  Always in our hearts!


As I was taking a quick photo of the angel, my daughter Adelaide stopped me and asked if the angel lights up.  I said no, but as I started to look the angel over, I noticed she DOES light up!



I bought this winter shovel decor at a garage sale, prior to Emilia’s passing.  I just thought it was cute and chic and would look great as a decoration in my home during the winter.  A while after Emilia died, I had realized there were six snowmen on the shovel:  2 big snowmen, 3 smaller snowmen, and 1 even smaller snowman that looks a tad different and subtly sticks out from the rest.  The shovel then took on a whole new meaning and is extra special to me! Before my husband and I were married we had discussed the topic of children.  How many each of us wanted and questions like that.  We both agreed we wanted three children.  When Emilia died, we knew we didn’t want only two children here on earth, we still wanted three to hold in our arms.  Our idea of a family of five had instantly shifted to knowing we would actually be a family of six.  This shovel was clearly handmade for a family, but not my family.  I just bought it 2nd hand on the basis of it being cute.  Now it is a representation of my family:  6 snowmen – 2 grown snowmen and their 4 snowman children.  Like I mentioned earlier, the last snowman sticks out to me.  She is much smaller than all the other snowmen.  She has no scarf, but instead, she is unique and special as she is the only snowman with a heart over her chest.  That snowman to me is Emilia! I think of her every time I look at this decoration piece! This is our family! I bought it at a time where it had zero significance to me and was in no way a representation of what our family would look like.  Now, it is exactly what our family looks like!



This was the very first ornament I bought in memory of Emilia for our Christmas tree! It is incredibly special to me and by far one of my favorites!


There are several different shops on Etsy or other venues that sell baby angel ornaments similar to this one.  I purchased this ornament from Kinsey Bells.  What is so wonderful about this specific piece, is that I was able to personalize the baby.  Many shops allow you to choose the hair color and skin shade of the baby.  I was even able to choose the style of the angel wings.  If you are really crafty, you can even purchase all of the supplies and create your own angel baby ornament. 



Christmas ornaments can be expensive, but you don’t have to buy something specialized and/or pre-made in order for it to be special to you and your family.  I began creating this handmade ornament weeks after Emilia died.  It originally began as a bulk project.  I created them as gifts for the nurses who cared for us in the hospital when Emilia died.  I took a butterfly paper clip and attached a pearl to it with ribbon, so it resembled an angel.  I then attached card stock to the angel with Emilia’s full name and her birthdate.


This gift originally was meant to be anything the receiver wanted it to be… an ornament, a bookmark, a random token… my kids have one hanging up in each of their rooms and I even have one hanging from the rearview mirror in my car.  Something so small and simple can make a beautiful addition to a Christmas tradition or decoration in your home.  This gift quickly caught traction and it turned in to me making them for other infant loss families.  That Christmas I decided to make one for my Christmas tree also.  It’s fun to see this ornament in my home and to think of all the other families who also have this trinket and wonder how it may be helping to ease their grief as well.



Each year (pre-Covid), the funeral home that arranged all of Emilia’s after life preparations hosts a Christmas Service for all of the families that they have ever assisted in years past.  My family has attended multiple services, but at our very first service (December 2017) our family was given this ceramic ornament. 


I encourage each of you to follow your local funeral home and consider attending any public events that they offer for families who are missing loved ones.  At this Christmas event, each family was allowed to pass around a microphone and speak out the name(s) of the loved one(s) they were missing that year.  It felt so validating to be surrounded by others who were also grieving and to have a safe space where I could share my grief and Emilia with others.


“Because someone we love is in Heaven there’s a little bit of Heaven in our Home”



I am a member of a local Pregnancy and Infant Loss support group.  For multiple years, every November we would make Christmas ornaments inspired by our babies who passed away.  This is my ornament, both front and back. 


The front side of my ornament has an angel girl holding a bunny.  This seemed perfect as Emilia is forever tied to bunnies.  I imagine if I were to travel all the way to Heaven, I would find Emilia surrounded by bunnies in a field of wild flowers.  I chose a red rose because one of Emilia’s middle names is Rose.  And I chose two snowflakes, because of Emilia’s birthday.  She was born on March 15, 2017 – on the cusp of spring.  The day she most likely died and on the day we found out she had died, it was trying to snow.  Snow in March reminds me (in somewhat of a sad way) of Emilia.


The back side of my ornament spells out “Emme”.  Emme is Emilia’s nickname.  I also placed two butterflies on the ornament as the Emilia’s Wings logo is Emilia’s own footprints put together into a pattern to look like a butterfly.



I was shopping at Pier 1 and found these beautiful angel wing ornaments.  I bought several of the wings to gift to members of my support group on their baby’s birthdays.  I also kept one for myself to place on my own Christmas tree.


This ornament is made with glittering white feathers.  Unfortunately, from my understanding, Pier 1 closed all of their brick and mortar locations and now only provides services to the community via online orders.  I have been unable to find this particular ornament, but I have seen similar options sold online with companies such as Amazon.



My second Christmas without Emilia I received a broken piece of a teacup.  I was a table leader at one of our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups.  At our December meeting, one of the mothers at my table had gifted each of us a charm made from a broken piece of ceramic.  The beautiful story behind the ceramic piece was that this woman had inherited her late grandmother’s treasured teacups.  The shelf holding all of the teacups had once fallen, crushing and breaking all of the teacups into several pieces.  My MOPS friend was naturally devastated, but despite the teacups being destroyed, she couldn’t bear to part with them.  Instead, she took all of the pieces, filed down the sharp edges, painted them gold, and attached clasps to them so that each broken teacup piece could be repurposed into something special and unique.  This ornament helped me to realize that my loss and subsequently – my “brokenness” – does not define me.  There is beauty and grace within the imperfections and I (like so many others) was made so much more beautiful for haven been broken.


“She is a beautiful piece of broken pottery, put back together by her own hands.  And a critical world judges her cracks while missing the beauty of how she made herself whole again” – J.M. Storm



This is another ornament I made at my local Pregnancy and Infant Loss support group, KC HOPE.  Having already created an ornament, I wanted to make something a bit different than what I had made the previous year.  The month prior to our ornament making meeting was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.  For the past two years I had personally organized an Infant Loss Walk for our group and I had also designed tshirts for us to where at the event.  The tshirts I designed had an angel wing shaped to fit half of a heart.  The other half said “Half of my heart lives in Heaven”.  When I saw this heart shaped ornament it seemed like the perfect theme to continue.  I used that same quote to create my 2018 ornament in memory of Emilia.  The ornament is two plastic pieces that connect to one another.  We used colored cardstock to split the ornament in half.  This gave us two sides of the ornaments that could be decorated.  The letters are foam pieces and the swirls are charms and gems that can all be purchased online or at any craft store.



I absolutely love this ornament! You can find this Pregnancy and Infant Loss ornament in every care package that we deliver to hospitals, that are then given to infant loss patients.


The entire ornament is handmade out of polymer clay specifically as a pregnancy and infant loss memorial ornament.  The base is a pair of decorative angel wings.  The heart at the center of the piece is created with the official colors of pregnancy and infant loss – baby pink and baby blue.


This ornament was created and sold by the etsy shop, A Thread Runs Thru It.  Sadly, Sarah has officially closed her business and is no longer making pregnancy and infant loss creations.  To view some of the beautiful work Sarah has created in the past, visit her Facebook page at A Thread Runs Thru It.



I have always enjoyed crafting, but I found my ability to create really beautiful things was limited without some special tools that make crafting easier.  Last year, my wonderful husband gifted me a Cricut machine as an early Christmas gift! The very first thing I made was a project I had been eyeing for several weeks, this beautiful angel ornament!


Believe it or not, this ornament is made entirely from paper! I used white cardstock to make the angel and her halo is made with gold glitter cardstock.  Of course this ornament was inspired by my Emilia! I like to think of her as the angel, hanging from our Christmas tree each Holiday season! Isn’t she beautiful?!


Do you have a Cricut machine? Check out Special Heart Studio to find this free svg and create your own angel!



In your free time do you ever find yourself searching the web looking at various items that you would like to buy? Maybe sometimes you save a link for the future, hoping that one day you’ll be the happy owner of that special item? That’s how I was with this ornament.  I had fallen in love with the beautiful design, but for whatever reason I could never justify making the purchase.


Last year, I finally bought this ornament and I am so happy to have added it to my collection.  I actually tried finding a link to the company who sold me this ornament.  I wanted to attach it to this section, so others who also love it could easily find and purchase it too.  It is funny how fate works, because no matter how much I searched I could not find this ornament.  If I had waited and not bought this ornament last year, I am sure I would have been completely devastated to learn I would never have one of my very own.  I am so glad I bought this beautiful ornament when I did!



This past February I learned that I was pregnant.  As quickly as I learned about the pregnancy, it ended in miscarriage.  My grief was compounded by the fact that I had been experiencing infertility prior to getting pregnant.  It took me over a year to get a positive pregnancy test and after my loss, I wasn’t all too optimistic that getting pregnant again would be any less difficult.  I was left with a lot of sadness, confusion, and uncertainties for what would come next and when. 


The morning after my miscarriage, I drove from store to store looking for a token or some kind of memento to represent the baby we had just lost.  I didn’t want to just sweep my miscarriage under a rug and pretend like it never happened.  I don’t know why, but a bird of some kind was coming to my mind.  After shopping, I was really sad and disappointed.  A. for obvious reasons, but B. I literally found nothing at any of the stores that spoke to me and I ended up coming home empty handed.


A couple days later I had flowers delivered to my front step from my parents.  Wrapped around the vase was a pendant with a hummingbird. It felt perfect! This was the beautiful keepsake that I was hoping to find in honor of our miscarriage.  A few days later it became very much solidified that a hummingbird was definitely the symbol for the baby we had lost.  My grandfather sent a condolence card in the mail and on the cover of the card was hummingbirds! A beautiful friend of mine also gifted us dinner/dessert and a beautiful charm.  The charm reads “You’ll always be my favorite what if”.  I also bought purple crystals to add as decor around the house as a reminder of our loss.  I received all of these beautiful gifts and wanted to put them in a special place where I would see them and be reminded of the miscarriage.  I decided to take the hummingbird pendant, the charm, and the purple crystal and turn them into a Christmas ornament.  Although our baby was with us only briefly, there is a forever reminder of their existence right within our home.



Another Cricut project for the win! One of the biggest reasons I wanted a Cricut was for all of the birthday parties I am busy planning.  With four kids and four birthdays, I knew a Cricut would be a good investment to help make decorations easier.


Emilia’s birthday is in the middle of March.  Each year our family throws a birthday party for Emilia just like we do with other members of our family.  Every year I pick a birthday theme and I make cupcakes and little cupcake toppers that fits that year’s theme.  Emilia’s fourth birthday theme was daffodils.  The daffodil is the official birth flower for the month of March.  Before making a dozen yellow daffodils, I practiced on some leftover white cardstock I had laying around from a previous project.  I designed this daffodil all by myself, so I am very proud of it! My daffodil was a beautiful success and the yellow daffodils looked perfect on our cupcakes! I ended up keeping the original white daffodil that I had made and decided I would use it as a Christmas tree decoration from here on out! A beautiful reminder of Emilia’s fourth Birthday!



Last Christmas I stumbled upon this Christmas ornament online.  Another mother who I know who has also lost a baby posted online images of what Christmas looks like in her house.  Their family has a miniature Christmas tree just for their daughter in Heaven.  On the tree they place all of the Christmas ornaments that they have collected throughout the years that remind them of their daughter.  This was one of their ornaments.  For those who do not recognize the image.  These are the characters from the children’s book, “Guess How Much I Love You” by by Sam McBratney. 


I knew instantly that I had to have this ornament! The message of the book, along with the characters being bunnies… I just had to have this ornament! I searched the internet, quickly found the ornament, bought it, and have eagerly waited for the entire year to fly by just so I could see it hanging on our tree!



Ever since our miscarriage and realizing the significance of hummingbirds in association with the miscarriage, I have wanted a 3D glass hummingbird ornament for our tree.  I found lots of beautiful options online, but was so happy to find this ornament at the store At Home.  It is a very nice plastic material, which works great as it is harder for my kids to destroy.  It was also about five times cheaper than every other hummingbird ornament I was finding online.


This ornament has been a favorite in my household.  Both of my daughters (8 and 3 years old) have proclaimed that this is their favorite ornament on the tree this year! Sometimes it can be hard to find meaningful items t0 represent a miscarriage.  For many of us, our miscarriages happened before we ever had a doctor’s appointment.  We have no sonograms, no baby blankets, no stuffed animals… some of us never even got to see the baby or hold them.  I am glad that I have some reminders of this baby, despite the lack of time and memories that we were unable to make with him or her.



My hopes are that after reading this blog post you are all able to look at the Christmas season with a different prospective.  I by no means expect that your grief or sadness will be lifted and taken away.  But I do hope you are able to get ideas that spark new traditions or ways to connect with your baby throughout the season.  If you are struggling this Christmas season, I pray that there are subtle little things in your life that can help bring back the magic and spirit of Christmas that so many of us take for granted.  Christmas time may never look the same for you, but you can still weave your child into new traditions that bring a whole new different, more special meaning to Christmas and how you choose to celebrate it.  Merry Christmas, everyone, and a Happy New Year!

Leave a Reply