We've all been touched by the bizarre events of 2020. The word, now cliched - "unprecedented" does aptly describe this year. The year has been hard. In Bible Study the other night, my friend Alicia said, "Everybody has their hard." The "hard" of 2020 has been exhausting and varies in severity for many of us. Some of us have been inconvenienced because now we have to work at home and have to wear masks; but for some of us loss is deep and devastating.
Is this the first Thanksgiving since you've lost your job due to the pandemic? Maybe your mom passed away this year and she always cooked the Turkey, and you can't remember her special recipe. It could be the first Thanksgiving that you've had to tackle since you lost your husband, and you have no idea how you will help navigate your kids through their pain.
Loss is loss, and it hurts. But the Holidays seem to magnify our pain. Every decoration or Christmas song is just another reminder of the wreckage in our already fragile heart.
As fall approached the year after our daughter Nicole died in an accident, I felt the pressure on my chest increase. You know the pressure, the pressing weight of grief. Physically palpable. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide until the season was over, but I couldn't. I had our surviving kids to consider. They were also hurting as they approached their first Thanksgiving and Christmas since they lost their big sister. She was the one who watched out for them, who always made things fun and light.
I learned a lot that first holiday season after Nicole went to Heaven and continue to learn as the seasons of my grief has changed. I've discovered that time doesn't heal all wounds, but time does help. I still get the familiar ache in my chest as the first of the holiday decorations start to appear, and the Christmas songs begin to play. But the pain isn't as sharp and raw. I also discovered that change happens, and if things don't look the way they did before, it is okay. Allow yourself to adjust to the change. Don't put pressure on yourself to re-create what you had before, because you can't. But that doesn't mean that there won't be beautiful times ahead; there will be - it will just look different.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Joshua 1:9. It is on our daughter Nicole's headstone. It says:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
My sweet friends, like Alicia, said, "Everybody has their hard". But then she went on to say, "There is good in this hard". She is right, there is good, but sometimes it doesn't "feel" good. The good is that God is with us.
So, if this is your first Thanksgiving since___________. Fill in the blank with your "hard". I'm so sorry that you have to walk this road, but I want to ask you to have courage. Allow God to soothe your broken, weary soul. Give yourself space to adjust to this new place. You will find that little by little; you will experience peace and healing.