A Christmas Tradition Blooms from Grief
By Megan Lacourrege
Contributing Blog Author
We were hunched over a Bible, praying like we never prayed before. We had just returned from a 12-week prenatal appointment where we learned our baby had no heartbeat.
I remember thinking, “Jesus raised people from the dead. If we look in the Bible and find words of healing and pray, Jesus will return our baby to life. When we go for our confirmation ultrasound tomorrow, we will be so joyous when we see this miracle!”
My husband poured through Scripture as I wrung my hands. Suddenly, my husband suggested, “Why don’t we name the baby Jessie?” He had found himself repeatedly and unintentionally flipping to the genealogy of Jesus and the name “Jesse.”
“Sure, whatever,” I said in response. It was gender-neutral for a baby we weren’t sure was a boy or girl. To be honest, I didn’t care as long as our baby lived. However, our confirmation ultrasound the next day revealed that our baby had, in fact, died.
Our lives were dramatically shifted as we tried to carve out a new normal in the midst of crushing grief. I longed for ways to include our little Jessie, who was discovered to be a boy, in our daily lives. One opportunity came in the most providential of ways.
Jessie’s due date had been Dec. 3, a day before his father’s birthday. It was a day we had much trepidation about, remembering what could have been. My husband didn’t even want to celebrate his birthday, knowing he wouldn’t have the only gift he wanted, his son.
As I wondered what to give my husband, I had an inspiration: I could get him a Jesse tree. It could start a family tradition in remembering each day during Advent the Old Testament events that led to the birth of Jesus. Also, it would honor our son. We had loved that in the Bible, it was said, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse.” We held on to a belief that Jessie’s short life would bring forth life and goodness.
The holiday season that year was difficult for us. While everyone else was looking forward to Christmas and the joy of the birth of a baby, all I could see was the cross. Starting a new tradition out of our grief was tremendously helpful.
If you have a loved one you are missing this Advent, consider ways that you can incorporate their memories into the season.
Remember, there is no pressure to feel any particular way this season. Just like at the first Christmas, Jesus can enter into our lives wherever we are at, in joy or sorrow, comfort or great difficultly.
Megan Alfonso Lacourrege is a wife and mother who resides in Slidell, Louisiana. She is a native of St. Bernard, graduated from Tulane University with a double-major in English and musical theater. She serves as youth director at St. Genevieve Catholic Church in Slidell. Megan is also the author of the children’s book, “My Sibling Still,” for children who have lost a sibling to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. She aims to provide resources to bereaved parents and siblings of miscarriage on her website http://www.mysiblingstill.com.