Before Christmas of 2002, after the second year of our Project Rachel support group, we initiated ‘With My Angel at the Manger”.
This outreach of our Project Rachel ministry offers an opportunity to those who have lost a baby before birth to come aside and affirm that they want to include their dear deceased baby in their Christmas preparations.
This gathering is usually on a December Saturday morning from 10 – 12noon at a local church.
We provide the paints, brushes, pens, paper, craft items, refreshments. You will also need Kleenex!
Here is a brief outline of the morning:
1) The Christmas Narrative is read. The purpose is to share the fact that Mary and Joseph understand our emotional trauma! On a flip chart there is a list of several emotions which Mary and Joseph experienced --- wondering, fearful, alone, questioning, trusting, etc. Those participating are encouraged to point out the emotions that they share with Mary and Joseph.
For many of us, this is a new insight into the Christmas story. It is not a magical story, but a true story of a family. We have the chance to see the Christmas story from a human standpoint. We can relate to Mary and Joseph who struggled too. Mary and Joseph found that their only strength was to trust in God for His Plan for them.
That is what He asks of each of us who have lost a child before birth – to Trust in His Plan for our family and to include all our family members in our own Christmas story.
2) Each parent writes a letter to their dear baby—this may be the first time we have attempted to express our feelings, in writing, about losing our dear baby.
3) Each parent is asked to say their baby’s name out loud so we can welcome these children into this room, into our lives. One year, an older couple had not named their baby before this day, but during this ‘naming’ time the husband piped up “I have a name for our baby”. It was a joyful moment for all of us.
4) We craft a Christmas ornament with baby’s name on it which is hung on a Christmas wreath. In the past, we have prayerfully put this wreath in our healing rock garden. However, in 2014 the parish priest gave us permission to place the wreath on the side altar under the statue of Mary holding baby Jesus.
5) Project Rachel provides an angel for each participant to take home and hang on their Christmas tree or to place in their crèche scene. We also offer “precious feet” which we have pinned to a piece of ‘snow’ that can be placed in the crèche scene.
6) Closing prayer and refreshments.