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The Unexpected Gift My Mother-In-Law Gave Me the Christmas After I Lost My Child

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She would have been 13.

I haven’t thought about her in a while. But for years, thoughts of her consumed my waking moments and my dreams.

I was pregnant, and it was Christmas time. All was jolly and bright — with the gentle mixture of fear. What would motherhood be like and would I be good at it? All I knew was a strong desire to mother was within, and we would figure it out together. I would grow into motherhood with each breath my future daughter took.

Three days before Christmas, I knew something was wrong; I began to miscarry a dream and a fragile life. I could see it every time I looked in the mirror, fear taunting me. I spent a few hours in an ER room longing to hear a heartbeat that was never meant to beat.

I went home, pulled myself together, packed our gifts in the car and said goodbye to my mother. There was more family to see with Christmas just days away. All I felt was heartache tinged with anger and questions. Why me?

I opened maternity gifts, I tried to celebrate with our family, and then I slipped upstairs to grieve without watching eyes. I lay down in the bed, pulled the covers over my head and fell apart.

My mother-in-law followed me upstairs, sat next to me, and cried with me.

“It was our baby, too,” she said.

I’ve never forgotten that moment or that feeling, but at times I’ve returned that same gift of just crying with those who are hurting.

I don’t know what you’re experiencing right now, but I know so many of you are dealing with a loss of a loved one or maybe even a death of a dream. I pray that you find joy, deep joy, in this season.

Whitley & Elise under the tree
My girls, Whitley and Elise

I have experienced healing and restoration in my body and received the joy of two beautiful girls. But, I haven’t forgotten that Christmas filled with tears and how God met with me and cradled me through it all. My arms literally ached to hold a baby of my own.

Someone sitting next to you might be swallowed up in grief; don’t let the awkwardness of not knowing what to say stop you from reaching out to them. They don’t need you to say the right thing, they just need to be seen and for you to acknowledge their pain. If we do anything at all praiseworthy this season, let it be the act of noticing others and reminding them that they haven’t been forgotten. Give that awkward hug and don’t pull away too soon. Send that email and love on someone with your words. Take back some of those gifts that you really don’t need, and do something for someone else.

So many this season have experienced loss, and I just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you, of your pain, and if I could, I would sit beside you and carry that pain with you and just cry.

This post originally appeared on

For all of December, The Mighty is celebrating the moments we gave or received a gift that touched our lives in a special way. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post describing this moment for you. Include a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to
Hint! Some gifts don’t come in packages.

Originally published: December 11, 2014
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