Grieving Through the Holidays — grateful, yet grieving

Last week I was shopping where Christmas music was playing in the background.  As I went around the store, the classic song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” was playing and I cringed as I listened to the lyrics.  I wanted to shout out loud, “Wait, I don’t think so!” I had thoughts on finding the manager and asking to change the playlist but considered that wouldn’t be necessary.

For some of us, this is the most painful time of the year.  This month can be especially difficult when we are missing our loved one at our family gatherings and celebrations.  The empty chair, the missing stocking, the favorite recipe they loved, all remind us of their absence.  All our memories have been discontinued.

I’ve come to conclude that grieving through the holidays is like having an uninvited guest show up to dinner; it’s best if you set a place and acknowledge their presence.

So, where’s the app for managing the holidays when you are grieving?

We begin by recognizing our grief and acknowledge our loss.  Our tears validate that we loved someone and they are no longer here.

Following the loss of his son, Matthew, in 2013, Pastor Rick Warren said, “Grief is a good thing because it gets you through the transitions of life.” 

Then, we acknowledge the absence of our loved one in a meaningful way.  A candle, a Scripture reading, or reflection is a way to remember and honor your loved one.   Telling stories can be a healing way to grieve together with family members, as well.

It’s important to take time for what you need.  In the midst of so many details and to do lists, paying attention to what you need is legitimate.  A cup of tea, a nap, a walk could be helpful ways to take care of yourself. 

Finally, allow yourself to go deeper into the meaning of Christmas this year.  The words of the Christmas song, O Come, O Come Emmanuel give us hope:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

I hope you find the deeper meaning in Christmas as you continue to walk your grief journey.  Truly, Emmanuel, God is with us.

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Used with permission from Pam Luschei.

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