Posted in Grief

Go Away, Grief! It’s Christmas

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Even at Christmas, losses still occur. Goodbyes become reality. Grief pays you a visit. Yes, even at Christmas.

It fastens itself to you and holds on tightly, accompanying you to every Christmas party, shopping trip, and candlelight service. This unwelcome guest becomes part of you, and part of your Christmas. Like it or not.

It threatens to drain your joy. It desires to consume your thoughts. It demands your full attention. It guilts you into believing happiness should never again be yours. Not even at Christmas.

Grief is a natural response to loss. We should never be ashamed of our grief, nor should we feel pressured to rush it along. Although it looks differently for each of us, one thing is certain: we all encounter it at some point.

So how are we to face Christmas – and any other day for that matter – with grief as our companion? How do we push through? How do we keep on living in spite of it?

Friends, I know of no better way to navigate through grief than to immerse myself into the word of God. In the days and weeks following my brother’s death, this passage continually stood out to me:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.    2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

He is the Father of compassion; the God of all comfort. How I needed to hear this. To remember this. To know this for myself. To be reminded of God’s goodness, and to understand He would comfort me through every problem I faced, even when it involved a goodbye I wasn’t ready to give. Yes, He was there. Yes, He cared.

And then I found purpose: I was not alone in my mourning. With the comfort God had shown me, I would someday console another whose heart was grieving.

Though it wasn’t easy, I crawled out of bed, finished shopping, wrapped gifts, and celebrated Christmas as best I could. I surrounded myself with family and close friends. I thought of Jesus. I pictured my brother sitting with Him, having the best Christmas ever.

Friends, if grief has invited itself to your Christmas this year, acknowledge it. Sit down with it. Open your bible to it. Find verses that speak comfort and hope to your heart. Press them firmly into your grief.

As you stand to your feet, may God’s peace and strength begin to steady you. May you be comforted. May you perceive the love and beauty encircling you. It is there, even in the midst of your grief. It is there, because He is there. And He cares.

 

Posted in Grief

Getting Through Christmas

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Not too long ago money was scarce in my home. I’m talking practically non-existent. My husband’s thriving business suffered greatly during the recession, causing us to lose much of what he had worked so hard to provide.

With our bank account empty, even the most basic necessities such as toilet paper, toothpaste, and shampoo were tough to come by. And splurging on extras -you know, those wonderful things we typically take for granted such as koolaid, Little Debbie snack cakes, and the dollar menu at the local fast food restaurant- all of those quickly became a thing of the past. And certainly, if we couldn’t afford those small treats, you can imagine where we stood with our bigger, more important obligations.

We had hit rock bottom, and it hurt. We had never been at a lower point, financially or emotionally.

And then along came Christmas.  Not only one, but two, and then three Christmases with us barely scraping by.

This reality, followed closely by two back to back December goodbyes, wreaked havoc on my emotions – and my Christmas spirit.  Instead of excitement, I felt anxious over the gifts I couldn’t buy, the expectations I couldn’t meet, and the loved ones I couldn’t hug. I simply wished to hide away and skip the whole season of Christmas and all its merriment.

I remember vividly how my heart ached as I passed through those days. The uncertainties. The confusion. The disbelief. The sheer panic over the very real possibility of losing my home.  The heavy dread of facing Christmas with one or two fewer loved ones at the table.

Those years were tough; surviving those Christmases was even tougher. Yet here I am, hoping to encourage others walking a similar path. Those who view Christmas as more of a chore than a celebration; who are holding their breath, wishing to skirt past December unscathed.

Friend, if you are that person, may I share with you some of what has helped me?

First of all, it is so freeing to admit you are not strong enough, and you don’t have to be. Secondly, accepting help offered by others teaches you humility and brings a wonderful blessing to you both. Thirdly, learning to rely on God’s truth and promises is absolutely vital for it is there you begin to understand how much He truly loves you.

You see, if we operate in our own strength, sooner or later we give out. But if we allow the precious people God has placed in our lives to encourage, love, and support us, we are strengthened. And if we lean into God as we would a close friend, we sense His presence. And in His presence, our hearts begin to mend and our fears dissipate.

We learn God can be trusted.

We learn He is faithful.

We learn He will graciously meet us where we are …  even when He finds us cautiously playing hide and seek with Christmas.