If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, you might feel that the holidays are the hardest time of year. A time that is supposed to be merry is wrought with pain as you think about the person who should be by your side or in your arms, but is not. And for parents who’ve had to say goodbye to a child, this grief can feel insurmountable.
For Ginny Limer, a mom of five from Fort Worth, Texas, her Christmas a few years ago was especially painful for this very reason. The teacher and philanthropist found herself facing the unexpected grief of losing her baby boy Cullin at 6 months old.
“Cullin passed October 1, 2012 from SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome (which is code for: we don’t know why your baby died),” Limer shares with Babble. “I have other kids who needed my presence over presents that 1st year but I was riddled with grief, sadness, and anger and couldn’t pull it together. So I fell apart.”
And it was because of her pain that the #ornamentalrelease tradition was born.
As shared on the Instagram @griefunfolding:
“[Ginny] knew she needed to decorate because she had other living children to enjoy the holidays, so she went out into her garage and started getting decorations down. Next thing you know the grief overcame her and she was throwing and smashing bulbs all over her garage, screaming, crying, because she was so upset that she had to endure the holidays without her precious baby. She left the mess and went inside.”
But wait for the next part. When Ginny went back into the garage the following day, she saw something unexpected. “She looked down and realized even though they were broken they still shone brilliantly, even brighter than before,” the post explains. “She scooped up all those broken bulbs and put them in a new clear bulb to hang on the tree, symbolizing her new life and the way grief has shaped her.”
Because even when we are broken, we are strong enough to pick up the pieces of ourselves and endure. Survive. And maybe find some joy in the days or years ahead. The broken bits in her ornament — an ornament she never thought she’d make — “may be broken, but they still sparkle,” Limer tells Babble.
After losing Cullin, Limer knew she needed to do more. SIDS is a devastating way to lose a child and parents never truly get the answers they so desperately need. Limer knows the pain other parents feel and thought it might help them all if they could grieve together. So she took her pain and turned it into good, by creating the nonprofit organization Scared Sidless.
As explained on the organization’s website: “Scared Sidless was created in order support bereaved families, unite grieving siblings, and promote healthy grieving in honor of our son, Cullin Darden Limer.”
One of the most popular events shared on the site is the annual ornamental release. Limer encourages families to do what she did: shatter ornaments, release the pain, and then discover the shine and sparkle in the broken pieces.
Families can gather the pieces, fill a clear glass ornament, and hang their beautiful new creation on their tree to inspire a feeling of hope and help let the light shine in. Hanging an ornament that honors the child they lost can comfort parents and remind them that their loved one is with them on Christmas Day.