The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy. But for a mother’s who’s lost a baby, Christmas with an empty crib can be an overwhelmingly sad time. It’s been thirty years, but I still get teary-eyed when I think of my little angel.

Xmas Angel

Our third son, Joshua, was born with are rare congenital heart defect and lived just one week. I held him in my arms as the end neared. I’ll remember his valiant struggle for life as long as I live—a deep shuddering last breath, followed by an eerie silence.     

I was numb for weeks. Gradually I dismantled the nursery, sold the baby clothes, and donated the hand-sewn crib quilt and bumper pads to a charity. As I tried to get on with my life, medical bills poured in, a monthly reminder of a tragic week.

Just as I was getting settled into a different position at work, and managing to make it through the days with dry eyes, the holidays arrived. Everywhere I turned there were Baby’s First Christmas shirts, Baby’s First Christmas bibs, Baby’s First Christmas ornaments. I knew they were probably there every year, but normally they stayed safely tucked away amidst the teddy bear sleepers and the cow-jumping-over-the-moon coveralls, rather than jumping out and assaulting my fragile heart.

I knew that I wanted something special to remember Joshua by, something to say that he was always a part of our family, even though he wasn’t physically with us. I search through all the malls and finally found a tiny white Christmas angel.  I carefully stitched it to a piece of red cloth.  

This will be the 30th year that the little white angel tops the Gerdes Christmas tree. I like to think that our little angel is smiling down on us—always remembered, always loved, always part of our Christmas celebration.   

I needed something else that first Christmas. I needed my close friends and relatives to ask me how I was doing. I needed an opening to express the sadness that overwhelmed me amidst the Joy of the Season. I needed warm hugs and open hearts.

Most people don’t know what to say to a friend who’s recently lost a loved one. Especially during the holiday season, “How are you doing?” is a good start.

11 Comments on My Christmas Angel

  1. Jennifer
    December 22, 2015 at 11:13 am (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing! Loss of any kind is difficult. The holidays and anniversaries are the toughest, I believe. You are a strong woman 🙂

    • Sharon Gerdes
      January 1, 2016 at 9:07 am (3 years ago)

      Jennifer. Knowing that other women experience similar challenges helps a lot. I deeply value our friendship.

  2. Dyane Harwood
    December 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh Sharon, my heart goes out to you for the loss of your son Joshua.
    Thank you for writing about such heartbreak. I have your book in my Kindle ready to read soon and look forward to it. I’m sending you my very best, always!

    • Sharon Gerdes
      January 1, 2016 at 9:07 am (3 years ago)

      Dyane, Thanks so much for your ongoing support. Can’t wait to read your book. I’m currently working on a new novel.

  3. Lianne Swanson
    December 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm (3 years ago)

    Sharon, This is so beautiful and I want to ask you How Are You Doing? I am so sorry for your immense loss. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

    • Sharon Gerdes
      January 1, 2016 at 9:08 am (3 years ago)

      Lianne, Thanks so much for caring. I’m doing great. It’s kind of cool to think that i have my own special angel in heaven, always looking down on me.

  4. robin
    December 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this with the PSI family. I am hopeful that your writing sends healing to you and all of those who suffer.

  5. Angela Burling
    December 28, 2015 at 2:15 pm (3 years ago)

    Dear Sharon,
    A mother’s grief goes very deep. Your message reminds us that the loss of an infant leaves an indelible mark on her heart. Thank you for reminding us to ask, how are you doing?

    • Sharon Gerdes
      January 1, 2016 at 9:10 am (3 years ago)

      Angela, Actually, I’m doing great. I know that I’m not the only mother who has experienced losing a child. The pain never goes away, but I try to dwell on the joyful moments of the season. Best,

  6. Angela Burling
    December 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm (3 years ago)

    The loss of an infant leaves and indelible mark on the heart of a mother and members of the family. Thank you for reminding us to ask, “how are you doing?”

  7. Devi Natarajan
    January 5, 2016 at 8:14 am (3 years ago)

    Dear Sharon,
    The greatest grief a mother can experience is the loss of her child. The pain is always there irrespective of how many years have passed. Continue being strong.

    And what a beautiful way to remember your precious child!

    Warmest Wishes,


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