Pictures Of Liam: Remembering Our Son During The Holidays

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From the moment the photographer captured that final shot, I knew we had a keeper. It was 2012, just three weeks before Christmas. I had set up a little holiday photo session for my family as I knew it would provide for great memories. My three year old daughter and six-month-old son were sitting happily on our bed. Julia had her arm lovingly wrapped around her new baby brother, Owen. It was absolutely precious; even more so because their big brother got to be part of the photo shoot as well. In a big picture frame, on the wall behind them, was little Liam. All three of my children in one fabulous picture. Liam may not have been there physically but he was very much there in spirit. Liam was our firstborn son and he died at only nine days due to a congenital heart defect. With our little angel around us, the holiday card was now complete.

In 2008, my husband Brian and I spent our first holiday as parents in complete devastation. Liam had died that September. We were both in a state of shock. Even so, it didn’t change the fact that we still had a baby boy. We wanted to find a way for family and friends to remember Liam during the season.  On Thanksgiving Eve, I decided on a picture card of Liam with a note inside relaying our sadness and a request for prayers. It broke my heart to have to do it but I knew it was a beautiful gesture. It was something I took great pride in doing; therapeutic in a way. I did realize that it might be hard for some of our family and friends to look at. That being said, I wasn’t at all prepared for the reaction that followed.

According to one recipient, the card was a very “unhealthy” way to express our grief. Another one said that although it was a nice picture of Liam, we were basically saying, “Merry Christmas! We are miserable!” The harsh words were not only hurtful, but untrue. They were also spoken by people who thankfully never had the horrible misfortune of burying a child. Who were they to say whether we were grieving in a healthy manner?  Furthermore, how were we supposed to be grieving? What was acceptable? What hurt the most was the idea that it was somehow inappropriate to remember our son.  After a lot of tears, we stood by our card. My husband put it best when he said, “If opening that envelope made them sad for five seconds, how do they think we feel every moment of every day?” I agreed. At least everyone else could go back to drinking their eggnog. We, on the other hand, were shattered.

Just one year after our loss, our “rainbow baby” Julia Grace entered the world. Her very first photo session was just after Thanksgiving. I relayed to the photographer the need to have our Liam remembered in some form. And so it began: with baby Julia in a basket and her brother Liam’s picture in the background. It was nothing less than perfect.  Interestingly enough, some of the same people that had issues with our first card were okay with this one, as we had another child now. That seemed to make it all better. Little did they know that our sadness was still very strong, we just had some happiness to go along with it.

As Christmas quickly approaches, we plan to do another card with all of our children. It has definitely become a family tradition. I really feel that in each picture, it shows how much Liam is looking after his siblings. I will also continue to decorate our tree with all the ornaments that we have purchased in his memory. When I think of Liam, I also think of all the other angels that have gone too soon. I will also remember all of the families who have had losses, especially during the holiday season. This is not an easy time for many of us. I am grateful that we have Liam as a gift. And, for his love every Christmas, I thank him.

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This is a reader submission. 

(Image: Getty images/ authors own)

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    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Thank you for sharing your story. What a sweet way to remember your child.

    • keelhaulrose

      People should never tell you or anyone else how to grieve.
      I love your picture. Absolutely beautiful.

    • Mila

      That is such a great way to keep him involved!
      I don’t know where people get the balls to tell you anything is unhealthy. Person clearly has issues and I would disassociate myself from them personally.

    • Rebecca

      Oh my gosh! That picture is beautiful!! I love the picture of Liam in it!
      I’m sorry people say dumb sh**. I know, this is the Internetz, and so that probably sounds snarky, but if you were here in real life, you would see I’m crying while I say that I am so, so very sorry people say dumb sh**. really and truly I am. Have a blessed holiday! You have a beautiful family!

    • CrazyFor Kate

      I think that’s a really awesome way to incorporate your whole family in the picture. Anyone who’s offended by that can just shove it.

    • Bunny Lucia

      This was beautiful and heartbreaking; I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I also think it’s remarkably brave of you to let your younger children know about Liam, many parents hide away tragedies, afraid to tell their children until their much older. I understand it a little, but it’s great that they know about their older brother and that even know he can’t be physically with them and grow up with them, he is always watching over.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      It’s a beautiful picture. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • PJS

      I love that you’re sharing your story. We lost our baby girl, Adeline, at 23 days of age from a congenital heart defect the day after Christmas 2 years ago. Devestating,as you know all too well. You share your little Liam with all that you have in you! However you grieve is the correct way to grieve. God Bless you & yours this Christmas and every Christmas…and all the days in between. Hugs!!!!

      • EmmaFromÉire

        Adeline is an absolutely beautiful name. I’m so sorry for your loss, nobody should ever have to go through that.

    • Lindsey

      There is no right or wrong way to grieve and people who say there is are just strange.

    • Megan Zander

      All three of your children are beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • whiteroses

      Liam is just as much your child as Julia and Owen are, and however you and your husband want to acknowledge him is the right way to do it. Just for the record, I think your photo is amazing, and I hope you keep doing it.

      Don’t let anyone try to tell you how to grieve. That’s not their right or privilege. And if your sorrow makes them uncomfortable, well, that’s just too damn bad, imho.

    • Kay_Sue

      (hugs)

      Just (hugs), because that is all I can really think of in response to this.

    • Dgently

      God bless you and your family. : )

    • Natalie

      I think that’s so nice! What are you suppose to do, forget about your very real son just because you have other kids? They aren’t replacements, they are additions to your family. Continue to honor him and continue to remember him. And express your feelings how you want. Go to a therapist maybe to help you express those feelings, but ignore the non-doctors.

    • james p

      For someone who meet liam let me tell everybody he was a fucking awesome lil dude!!! I will tell my son santino what a great friend he was never able to meet.
      As for getting through your pain ive always said whatever you need to do i will stand with you with a lifetime of love and understanding.

    • Karen

      What a lovely gesture of remembrance for dear Liam. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Polyamorous Mom

      That was beautiful, as are your children and the photo <3

    • T

      This was so beautiful, I am so sorry for your loss. My best friend lost her son (my god son) hours after birth. I have pictures of him, alive and after, hung on my wall. People have given very mixed reactions. The death of a baby seems to be the hardest type of passing to understand. There is no wrong way to grieve.

    • Momma425

      I am so sorry for the rude things people said in the past when they felt uncomfortable. There is nothing inappropriate about sending out a christmas card with a picture of your baby on it, and letting people know how you are doing. Maybe some would prefer a big, plastic smile plastered on your faces than the awkwardness of not knowing how to handle grief, but personally, I would rather HONESTLY know how my family and friends are doing, and if it’s not well, how I can be of help.
      I am so glad that you continue to honor your son with your other children in pictures. :) I am sure he is a very proud big brother.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I think the photo is beautiful. So sorry for your loss, it’s one I know all too well. No one can tell you how to grieve, I think your tribute is perfect.

    • Sam Inoue

      What a sweet photo and a great dedication to the memory of your son.

    • OrganicPoppy

      Our culture doesn’t know how to deal with grief and especially grief of a child. It was horrible on me and my husband when our newborn died after his heart crashed in the hospital before we ever made it home. We were left with an empty nursery, baby boy clothes, and empty dreams for a future that wouldn’t exist. People thought we should be over it within a few weeks. I was asked by my best friend why I was depressed only 3 months after he died. Most people just ignored the subject and got noticeably uncomfortable when I mentioned being pregnant or my son. After I became pregnant with our rainbow baby I was asked if my depression was gone. Even pregnant with a new life, I cry every day over my son. She is his sister, not his replacement.

      I am sorry for you loss. People suck. There is nothing anyone can really say to make you feel better about this, but I am glad you have found some peace.

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    • gammachris

      My third son was stillborn on December 18, 1993. We were 34 weeks along when he died. On Christmas day, we went to my mother’s house with our two other sons. At one point, I started to cry. My mother pulled me aside and hissed in my ear, “If you MUST cry, go to the bedroom. You’re going to ruin Christmas for everybody else.” That was 21 years ago, and I started tearing up as I was typing this.

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