Silent Night, Challenging Night

Originally posted in December 2010.

My mother gave me a ticket for tonight’s Christmas Sing Along with the Symphony. This was her second year to sing with the choir and she was so excited. I was happy to go, excited about singing some old favorites and who knows, maybe it would help my Christmas spirit.

The music was wonderful and the atmosphere inspiring. There were people of all ages singing, laughing. When the orchestra began to play “Frosty the Snowman” a person dressed as a Snowman came out into the audience.

The kids went nuts, rushing down the isles to see him and parents were snapping pictures like crazy people, and then it hit me. It hit me that Cooper would be 3 1/2 years old at this very moment, just like the little ones clamoring to meet Frosty, just like the little boy sitting behind me saying “look mommy!”

My throat started to get that hard to swallow feeling and the silent tears began to fall. I was never more thankful to move on to the next song, to see Frosty exit, and the children to return to their seats. During the next few numbers I was able to pull it together and enjoy the music – 12 Days of Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, a reading of The Night Before Christmas, Silent Night.

Oh, Silent Night and here come the tears. I just can’t control it. I have no control over my emotions and I fear I will not be able to sit through Silent Night anytime soon. It’s not that I in any way compare my son to baby Jesus, it’s just the soft, somber, reflective tone of the hymn and the first verse which stirs me up. Even as I type, my eyes well up. Again.

Silent night, holy night

All is calm and all is bright

Round yon virgin mother and child

Holy infant so tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace

Sleep in heavenly peace

At this moment, it reminds me of Cooper’s passing and not the birth of Jesus. It scares me that I felt like I had pulled myself together for awhile and now, suddenly, it feels as if I’m falling apart all over again.

This would be the point where I reason with myself and try to balance my emotions with logic. The reality, yes, Cooper would have been 3 1/2, but not like the other children who were running around tonight. Cooper could not walk, or talk, and he would not ever have had that ability. He had a progressive disease which would have gotten worse over time, not better.

Cooper died peacefully and I was ready to let him go.  It was time, but that doesn’t make me miss him any less. It’s been one year, and I have to remind myself that it has ONLY been one year. There have been so many positive things that came from Cooper’s life. I try so hard to focus on the good stuff and most of the time I feel like I do a pretty good job of it. Tonight is just not one of those nights.

Last year my husband and I didn’t “do” Christmas. We did put up the tree and our stockings, but we didn’t go crazy with decorations. We didn’t buy gifts or even go to either of our families homes. Instead, we both took some time off and put together a puzzle of the beach because it reminded us of our last trip with Cooper. I’m sure it sounds lame, but it was what worked for us.

Christmas is a lot harder this year than I expected it to be. It’s hard to be out there finding a way to be okay everyday. It’s exhausting.

To read more about Cooper’s story, please visit


  1. Alisha said on December 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm ... #

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the world of parents who have lost a child. Your words touched my heart, opened my eyes, and gave me a new sense of wonder at all of the things grieving parents face as they move forward.

  2. Maggie said on December 17, 2010 at 8:04 pm ... #

    Michelle, I am so THRILLED to see this as a HelloGrief article. It gives me goosebumps to think about how many lives and hearts you will touch with your profound and beautiful words. Sending lots of hugs to you.

  3. Kim Kubilus said on December 18, 2010 at 9:25 am ... #

    What a beautiful article! It is a beautiful testament to Cooper, his memory and legacy.

  4. CAMRYN said on January 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm ... #


  5. Mimi said on November 30, 2011 at 11:13 am ... #

    Thank you for sharing your story so honestly and tenderly, Michelle. I love the picture of Cooper – just precious. The way you and your husband spent Christmas last year doesn’t sound lame at all. My husband and I spent Thanksgiving this year in much the same way – the puzzle was just different (mountains). And, oh, those songs…I used to sing Silent Night to my son as I rocked him to sleep. Blessings to you and your husband during this time of year and as you choose to navigate it in the ways that are best for you.

  6. Denise said on December 25, 2011 at 3:24 am ... #

    I am extremely tired as I read this article, but I guess there was a reason I forced myself to keep my eyes open. I suddenly found myself losing it this past evening (Christmas Eve) as I sang along to Silent Night with the congregation at a Christmas Candlelighting Service that a good friend invited me to join her at. The emotions and tears just flowed because I related the lyrics to my baby, Lauren, who was 22 years old when her life was taken from us about a year ago on December 17th. This month marks a milestone of her death (a day after my son’s/her brother’s birthday), then there’s Christmas and her birthday on the 27th. I am grateful to have my other two children (Lauren’s younger siblings) and they seem to fairing well and in the holiday spirit (and I am happy for that), which is what is helping me stay lifted, but not very much quite honestly. Silent Night was definitely a clincher. I miss her.

  7. Araceli said on November 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm ... #

    Michelle, I too lost my son. I can absolutely relate to every single phrase you shared. It’s been 2 1/2 yrs for for me and the holidays especially the “kids” one are still soo difficult.

  8. Tracy Graves said on November 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm ... #

    Well I want to say Thank you for that he has me seeing things in a different way. We lost Zachary 7 years ago and it feels like yesterday every time Christmas comes around. We were going out to his grave every Christmas but that got harder every year to now it has gotten really hard to go out there so I might have to try something like you did and see if it helps again thank you so much

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