December 19, 2012

Learning Love through Loss in Advent by Kathleen at Boring Blog

When Bonnie asked me to write a post about our family and Advent, my first thoughts went to our traditions: the “good-deed” straws to soften Jesus’ crib, the carols, the recipes and the slow quiet build up to the Christmas celebration.  Truly wonderful traditions, many already covered much better by other moms both here and on other blogs in cyberland. 

I also wanted to talk about how our family handles the St. Nicholas with our kids and perhaps start a discussion about the Santa question, gleaning advice from other experienced Moms about how to balance the Saint with the reindeer-loving chubby man.  

Instead, I’m going to be uncharacteristically unsarcastic and talk about pain and the cross and the creche.  Yes, we know it’s the hap-happiest season of all: our homes soften in the glow of Christmas lights and sweet smells from the kitchen.  The music, parties, and even that fun-loving Buddy Elf all somehow point to the joy of the Incarnation.

And yet, we feel acutely the pain of our neighbors in Newton CT, we see their grief and the faces of their dead children.  Even in this season of joy, suffering still exists and at times, the darkness can seem too much in this world of ours.   But St. John tells us, “A light shines in the darkness and the darkness can not overcome it.” (John 1:5)   This is the promise of our faith in Jesus Christ as he invites each one of us to draw closer to the light of his grace radiating from his humble manger.

This innocent Babe comes with the promise of everlasting life, but not without the cross. God asks us to bear our pain and suffering with love, faith, trust and peace for the sake of the whole world.  Sometimes these lessons come hard learned.

Last Advent, I found out I was expecting our fourth child and was pretty stunned.  My first thoughts were something along the lines of “Oh my gosh!  I’m still nursing our third a ton and she is crazy!  This is our closest space yet!  I feel so unprepared!  How can I homeschool?  I didn’t loose all the baby weight!”  (Yes, I know how vain that last one sounds…)  Of all the pregnancy discoveries this was the first one that was received with more shock and tears than joy and excitement.  Thankfully, my baby-loving husband’s enthusiasm helped me get used to the idea and I soon found myself filling with peace and good-humor.  Bring on the CRAZY!   I, also, knew how utterly beside themselves with happiness my kids would be at the prospect of welcoming a new baby into the family. My son had recently told me that he “prayed all day and all night and couldn’t seem to get a brother somehow.”   Suddenly, I couldn’t wait to be a mother of four at the ripe old age of 28! 

Then we miscarried at 11 weeks a few days after Christmas.   I felt guilt and sadness.  I’d thought I’d have many years to make up for that first negative reaction and show this baby how much he or she was loved and wanted.  But, like those poor parents in Newton, I learned that life can be very short.  And while, I don’t compare my loss to those parents who grieve for their murdered children, I do understand a small bit how tough it can be to lose a baby around Christmas.   I do, however, remember feeling peace whenever I knelt beside the crèche, my sadness wasn’t too big for this tiny Child.   And it was there, that I was reminded of all the wonderful blessings He’d given me in this life.

Since that Advent, we’ve miscarried another little soul at 8 weeks and it appears, sadly, that once again I maybe miscarrying for the third time, again, during the Christmas season.  (We are still praying for a miracle, but it appears to be exactly like the other two miscarriages.  Prayers welcomed..) 

One little way we found to honor our little angels this Advent was to pour some love and help into the life another child.  We’ve started sponsoring a little girl in Kenya and the kids started contributing some money and writing letters to this sweet little lady!  The organization is called Christian Foundation for Children and Aging and the website is  I know there are many other places to sponsor a child as well.

Slowly, but surely, I am learning that God allows us to experience pain so we can draw closer to Him and rely more heavily on His grace.  He has a plan for each of us.   Yes, He will ask all of us to drink from this cup of suffering, but it is so very true that when we lay our burdens and sorrows on Him, they become so much lighter.  Advent is a beautiful time to be reminded of the special love and grace Christ sends along with those crosses in life.

I always think of Mary and Joseph struggling to find a place to give birth.  I would have seriously lost it, if I had to be in labor on a donkey and then have to give birth in a dirty stable and yet, Mary found the grace to endure.  God gives us all the grace and tonight, I pray especially for those families who’ve lost their babies right before Christmas.  May Christ be the Light in their darkness.   
Kathleen is a wife, and mother on the East coast. Kathleen's finite talents include running the dishwasher daily and functioning strictly on decaf. You'll find her attempts at writing over at The Boring Blog.
PS from Bonnie - Kathleen is one of my favorite bloggers and may be among the best kept secrets of the blogosphere.

For more posts on Advent traditions and reflections check out the Advent series.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, kathleen. It sometimes feels like I am the only one who feels guilty about being scared and unsure at the beginning of a pregnancy and the guilt is overwhelming at times. I will be praying for a miracle for your family. May Mary and the Holy Family bless you this Christmas.

  2. Thank you so much for this. I tend to freak out a bit at the beginning of a pregnancy, and it's good to be reminded that every little one is a gift -- not to be taken for granted. We will be praying for a Christmas miracle for you.

  3. sorry for your losses.

    praying for a successful pregnancy for you this time

  4. Thanks for your beautiful reflection; that scripture from John is one of my very favorites. Praying for you and your family and your baby.

  5. Oh, Kathleen...this was beautiful and heartbreaking. Please know you will be in my prayers. Wish I lived closer to give you a big hug. Truly.

    You and your family are lovely.

  6. Praying for this little baby! And so sorry about the two babies you've lost. Thank you for this reflection.

  7. Thanks to all of you for the prayers, we haven't given up hope just yet!

    Thanks, Bonnie for the opportunity to write!

  8. Oh Kathleen- thank you for writing this beautiful piece. I am praying for you and that newest little one.

  9. Thank you for writing this somber but hopeful reflection. My first child died shortly after his birth a few days after Christmas. Now I have a hard time finding joy in this season, and I feel like other people just don't see why. I contemplate Mary's earthly motherhood a lot - laboring on a donkey, giving birth in a stable far from family, hosting shepherds straight from the fields just a short time later. (I'm convinced that only someone immaculately conceived could have done all that without losing it!) Realizing that the first Christmas was probably pretty stressful helps me to accept grace and connect with the meaning of Christmas.

    Prayers for you and your littlest one!