Grief During the Holidays
The Christmas Season is upon us. Everywhere we look, we see the sights and sounds of joyous, happy people, gathered together to celebrate Christmas. However, for many of us, the holidays can be a tender and painful - a reminder of those who are missing from our lives
You may be the daughter whose mom has passed away and would love the opportunity to ask her how to make the delicious cake she made every Christmas. Maybe your heart is broken because of a prodigal son who won't be present at Christmas dinner. Or the mom who misses her daughter's mischievous laugh when caught peeking at packages under the Christmas tree. Real grief - grief that seems to scream louder during the holidays. The hurt may be years old, but the dull ache in the heart lingers under the surface as every Christmas carol is sung. It also could be that the hurt is recent and fresh, like a ripping open of your very soul, and you can't seem to find your footing.
Our daughter Nicole went to be with the Lord three days after Christmas in 1998. Christmas has been permanently altered in my heart. Many years have passed since then, but each year as the holiday season approaches, I feel that old familiar ache in my chest. The grief still pushes me to tears as I crack open the boxes of Christmas decorations. I still keep her stocking in the box with everyone else's stocking. What I wouldn't give to see her empty the contents of that stocking and hear her sweet voice say, "Thank you, Mama." I miss her every day, but I miss her more intensely during the Holidays.
If this is your first Christmas without someone you miss desperately or even if it has been a few years, I encourage you to create space around your heart for healing.
At the end of each chapter of my book, Victorious Heart there is a section called "Grief Notes". Just some simple notes from my heart to yours on the various seasons we are forced to walk through while grieving. The following is an excerpt from the end of the chapter entitled "Birthdays and Holidays".
Grief Note: Slow down, do less, and be present.
Grief Note. When you are facing the first of a difficult holiday without your child or loved one, give yourself space to mix it up. Don't allow the expectations of the culture to define what is best for your family. If you are like us and can't stand the thought of being home during that first holiday or occasion, go somewhere new. Or give yourself the freedom not to celebrate or decorate at all. There will be time later to pick up the traditions that you want to or even to create new ones. Just give yourself room to grieve and to allow God to bring healing and comfort to your heart.
Grief Note. Find what works for you and your family. Creating traditions that include serving others is a beautiful way to honor our kids, but also help us to look outside ourselves and our own pain. Make a Christmas box for a needy child or sing Christmas Carols at a Convalescent Hospital. Serve at a local rescue mission or pediatric cancer unit at your local hospital. It is hard to get lost in our own grief when we are serving others. When you look to someone else's needs, it frees you to look past your own pain.
I hope these notes will help you navigate through this tender season. I'm so sorry that many of you have to walk this broken road of grief. Even though I haven't met many of you, know that you are dear to my heart and in my prayers.