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 unbearable.

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 grief?

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

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 grief.

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.


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