As the trees and the temperature remind us that the holidays are near, I know you’re reminded about something else, too. It’s another season without your child by your side. It’s another season when you’re faced with times that should be full of joy and peace, but there are little reminders of what you’re missing out on . . . again.

Whether your loss came before your little one took his or her first breath or once your child was an adult with a family of his or her own, I want you to know that we are thinking of you.

We, the mamas, who can only imagine the depths of pain that leave an empty space in your heart because we can still hold our loved ones and realize you cannot.

We, the mamas, who don’t know what to say when we hear your story because we can see the grief in your eyes and know there is so very little that we can offer.

We, the mamas, who say the wrong things at the wrong moment because we feel so helpless that our words will sound empty no matter how hard we try.

We, the mamas, who know how empty a home can feel even with a full house during a holiday party.

We, the mamas, who know that nights can be the hardest sometimes when the house is quiet and you’re left alone with your thoughts and photographs.

We, the mamas, who know that days can be the hardest sometimes when there is laughter filling your home.

We, the mamas, who experienced the same grief you have because of a loss.

When you’ve lost a child—whether earlier this year or 20 years ago—a piece of you is gone forever. A person who embodied all that was good in our lives is gone and there is a space in your being that will never be filled again.

Does this mean we are blind to the joy that still surrounds us on a daily basis? Does this mean we are ungrateful for our other children who are still with us? Does this mean we are simply dwelling in our pain?

No.

It simply means when it comes to our grief, we will never get over it, but we will learn to move past it. We’ll move past it and find a way to be present on Christmas morning. We’ll move past it and find a way to set new goals for the new year. We’ll move past it and still have that empty space in our heart.

So, this season, mama, while your heartache fills your body with a chill that even the warmest cup of hot cocoa and fuzzy blanket cannot take away even momentarily, please know you are allowed to feel any way you choose.

Should you choose to have a quieter December and forego the winter festivities, please know that will be OK. Should you choose to embrace the light and joy the season has to offer, please know that will be OK. However you choose to remember your child (or children) this season please know that will be OK.

And through it all, dear mama, know that we see you and feel your grief this season and the next.

You may also like:

When the Holidays Are Hard

Dear Grieving Mama, I See You

To the Moms and Dads Who Suffer Loss: You Are Not Alone

Want more stories of love, family, and faith from the heart of every home, delivered straight to you? Sign up here!

Ashley I. Arinez

Ashley and her husband, Matthew are raising their only daughter and their rescue pit bull Bella in St. Louis, MO after moving from Charleston, SC. After three previous losses, Ashley is thrilled to be a first-time mom even though there have been some challenges. Through it all, she is excited about this journey called motherhood. On her personal blog, Out of Ash’s, Ashley explores faith, family and her life’s frivolous footnotes.