|Grieving During The Holidays
© Ferna Lary Mills
The holidays can be pretty stressful with all the hubbub involved in the preparation: the
gifts, the lists, the cards, the dinners. Especially if you are like me and wait until the last
days to even start. But, add to this the additional stress of grief and it can be almost
We miss our loved ones all through the year, but holidays bring with them memories of
other holidays and family functions and happy times and it only seems to magnify our
loss. We can't imagine getting through the next month and into the first of the next year
without our loved one. How are we supposed to "celebrate" while we are so lost in our
When I first experienced grief some years ago, I remember wanting to bury my head in
the sand until the holidays were past. That, to me, would have been the easiest way to
get through it. I slept a lot during my grief, on the days when sleep would come. But at
some point I began to realize I was not the only one hurting.
A widow grieves the loss of her husband, but so do her children grieve the loss of a
father, even if her children are grown with children of their own. A sister grieves the loss
of a brother, but so does their Mother grieve the same loss of that child, even if he was
grown. Unless you are an only child and have lost a widowed parent who had no other
relatives or friends, you don't have to look very far to realize there are others who are
grieving the loss of the very same person.
When I was a teenager, I remember saying, "It's my life. I can do what I want." My
mother, in her great wisdom, finally managed to convince me that no one is an island.
Everything we do affects someone else in some way or another. Everything. Even the
way in which we grieve.
By burying our head in the sand, others in our family are left to grieve alone. By pulling
together in our grief, and grieving as a family, we can encourage one another even
when we think there isn't one ounce of encouragement left in us. It's a strength that
grows only in numbers.
The holidays are tough, but not impossible. It is easier to go through the holidays
together, remembering the good times, celebrating the life of those we loved and lost,
and remembering them in special ways during this time. Trying to go through these next
few weeks in solitude and quiet grief only makes us feel more alone. It magnifies our
We have many missing in our family this holiday season, and I have to remind myself
that I'm not the only one grieving these losses. Instead, my children, grandchildren,
siblings, and others loved them as much as I did ... maybe in some ways even more. So,
in their honor, we will pull together and celebrate those lives this holiday season. We
celebrate their memory, and we celebrate life, in spite of our grief.
If you have a recent loss in your family, or even if it's not recent but the holidays are
bringing back your grief, I pray that you will seek comfort in God's arms and in the love
of whatever family you may have left. If you have no family left, God's arms are always
open wide for you and He has enough love and strength and comfort to carry you
through the days ahead.
I look into the bright, sparkling eyes of my grandchildren and am reminded of the joy
that abounded in our home around the holidays. My Mother and my Grandmother may
look down from the edges of Heaven, and they will not be saddened, as we will honor
their memory this holiday by filling our home with joy, even in our grief. It doesn't mean
we don't miss them, just as It doesn't mean we won't grieve. But they left behind many
wonderful memories and we will cherish each one this holiday season. That's what they
left them for.
There are things you can do as a family, or as an individual to help you through the
holidays. Add a special ornament to the tree in your loved one's memory. Or if you aren't
decorating for Christmas, light a special candle in their memory. Make a donation to a
needy charity in their honor. Send a card to someone else you know who has suffered a
loss and offer a word of encouragement to them.
Spend some extra time in prayer that God will comfort you and give you strength to get
through the rest of this season. Remember the reason for the season. Remember God's
love for you. Remember his promises to always be there for you. Remember that His
love for you is eternal and that life is also eternal.
On the original Christmas Day, the angels rejoiced that Jesus was born. May you find
the courage to rejoice also, as will your loved ones now in their Heavenly Home, sitting
at the feet of this very same Jesus.
May God bless you and bring you Peace. ~ Ferna
|A Christian Grief Ministry