On “not going home” for Christmas

My daughter Emily is buried in Angeltown, and I’m realizing, I’m not going to get there before Christmas.

It stinks. I can’t describe for you how awful it is to realize that this year, I’m not going to put the tree on her grave. I’m not going to be there on Christmas morning before going to church. I can’t put a little wreath down. I can’t put her stocking with her annual letter to Santa (which always has the ink washed away by the snow by the time I take down the decorations.)

Angeltown is 65 miles from here. It’s not a terrible drive. But given how tight things will be between now and Christmas, I can’t go. Not unless I make substantial changes, and I’m not sure I can. I’m not sure it’s “worth” it. Because logically, I’d be driving three hours in order to spend ten to twenty minutes at the cemetery where, to be blunt, my daughter isn’t anyhow.

But I want to go. I wish I could be there.

It’s just an extra insult. It’s bad enough the baby’s dead. Shouldn’t I at least be able to wish her a merry Christmas?

And I know, I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me that she’s in Heaven and she’s watching over us and she prays for us and she loves us and she understands.

This is me. This is how I feel, and what I want to be able to do, and how I can’t do it. For Christmas, I want to drive back to Angeltown and say hello to my daughter at her gravesite and sit on the wet ground for a while, listening to the traffic and watching the wind play with the grass, straightening up her grave and the baby graves nearby hers, and just being quiet inside.

There’s a peace at that cemetery. It’s impossible to describe, but I can remember the feel of the wind on my cheek and the indistinct sounds of the road, but mostly the overall silence and the nonpressure of nontime. She’s not there, but she’s there in a way.

“When it comes to cemeteries, there are goers and non-goers,” a social worker said to me early on, “and both tactics are fine.” I was a goer in the first year after Emily died. I wanted to be there three times a week. I’d bring my coffee and sit after dropping off Kiddo#1 at school. On her birthday, I brought my guitar and played for a while.

Not this Christmas. It’s just not going to happen.

I’m sorry, Emmie. I didn’t want it to be this way.


  1. Sarah

    I was going to say that I understand, but that isn’t exactly true, as I have never buried a child. It would be more accurate to say that I think I would feel the same way.

    It sounds like it is important to you to include her in your Christmas routine and tradition – which is beautiful. Could you get a special candle, or angel ornament to represent your daughter? You could place the candle in a special place which is central, or the angel ornament could have a special place on the tree.

    When you do get to spend some time at the cemetery, put a picture of what you decided to do to honour her, and tell her about it.

    I will pray that you have a peace about your Christmas this year, and that you find a way to honour your daughter’s memory that will help you feel close to her this Christmas season.

    1. philangelus

      We do include her as best we can. My Patient Husband doesn’t want to have a stocking for her, but I do, so we compromised the first year by having an ornament of stockings hung by the fire, and each stocking has a name, and hers is there. We have a couple of ornaments for her too, although one of them broke this year.

      Thank you for the prayers. I appreciate them.

  2. Cricket

    Sometimes there is no perfect decision, so you go with the one that works better than the others and pray for peace. I know Emily is trying to hug you right now.

  3. karen


  4. illya

    Though not the same in intensity, but the same situation occurred last year. I could not visit my parents’ grave. I try to make it there for one visit between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day andthen again at Christmas. Last year, I didn’t make it. And I felt terrible. It wasn’t as if I disappointed them. It was that I disappointed me. There was someting inside me that needs that connection, the link with the past. It is a time that I pause and remember the love, the joy of Christmases past. And last year, I didn’t go. So, there is a feeling of emptiness, because in that visit there is a link to someone special. And you are right to feel just as you feel.

  5. Slartibartfast (Wendy) from eHell

    You and Emily have been in my thoughts a lot in the past year, from when I found I was pregnant with my daughter until she was born and now as she’s four months. I admire your courage and your strength, and I grieve for your loss. I wish I could go and put that tree up for you 🙁 but know that you will have well-wishes for both you and Emily from Alabama this year.

  6. Amy Deardon

    I’m so sorry. May God’s peace dwell through you and over you. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted, even if not now.

  7. CelticGemini (Krista) from Ehell

    I’m so sorry. I wish I could make it better for you…please know you’re in my thoughts. [[hugs]]

  8. mbbored

    While I haven’t loss a child, I did lose a parent when I was young. He was buried 100 miles from where we lived growing up, in his hometown. Going to visit my grandparents meant visiting Dad too. After I lost my grandparents, I’d still go visit him, sit down, talk about my life. Now I live on the opposite side of the country, even though I’m going home this year for Christmas, I don’t think I’ll be able to make the trip out to see him. It breaks my heart that I won’t be able to wish him a Merry Christmas “in person” so to speak.

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