I remember the Christmas after my mother died. And the sharp pain of separation the year my son was in the Navy, in the Gulf War(s). Both those times were very tough, even though there were many loving ones around me.
Loss of a loved one, separation from family, or divorce—all these situations are hard during the holidays. So it is with a humble heart for all of you that we offer you this post.
First, for those of you who are grieving—God loves you. He loves you when you doubt, when you are angry with Him, and when you feel like Jeremiah or Job. He loves you when you can’t relate to platitudes from well-meaning people. He loves you when you sit at the kitchen table with a blank stare.
He loves YOU.
So it’s OK for you to tell Him whatever is on your mind. Pray.
Grieving during the holidays is normal. Whether you find yourself grieving or simply have friends who are experiencing grief, you might find comfort from GriefShare. This ministry helps churches provide grief support groups. There may be a GriefShare holiday event near you. Or, simply read author Laura Petherbridge's advice on holiday survival tactics.
Over the years, I’ve also developed some of my own helpful strategies, so I pass them on to you:
- Take care of yourself. Stay as healthy as you can.
- Grief hits you at the strangest times. Plan how you will handle it so you don’t fret. Once I suddenly fell apart in the produce section of the grocery store…the only thing that saved me was the hilarious mental image of myself weeping uncontrollably onto someone else’s lettuce!
- Try to get outside for a little while every day, even if it is really cold.
- Do something for somebody else. It helps. A lot.
- Accept invitations from people who will let you be if you want their company but don’t want to be “on” for everyone. If you are giving the party, invite your grieving friend, and then let her do what she wants.
- Thank God for good memories. Thank Him for Christ who died for your sins, rose from the dead, and intercedes for you every day to the Father. Thank Him for the glorious mystery of the Holy Spirit’s comfort. And share the gospel with someone who does not know Him—there is no greater joy than seeing another person trust Christ at Christmas time.
May you have more moments of joy than you expected.
Editor's Note: This post is adapted from an article originally posted in December 15, 2015.