Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you Love
Christmas is an anomaly this year.
Who is going to make the greens, tell the corny jokes or play hit the kids with a cane? Better yet, who is going to read the Christmas story, or retire back to the room with her after she’s watched all the kids open their gifts, fight each other for who had the better dish and stuff their faces with her sweet potato pie. Who is going to sit in the recliner? The absence lingering in these questions point to the shattering of tradition that has been caused by the loss of my husband’s grandfather. His grandmother recently became a widow after 58 years of marriage.
How much do we re-tell and laugh at his corny jokes and discuss his memory before we look over at her and realize she needs consoling? When her laugh slowly fades, and her eyes glaze over as the joyful memories pinprick her heart at the painful reality of life without him, what do we do? She currently resides in the space between peace and pain as there is no time like the holidays to drive home the reality that he is no longer here. 58 Christmases of tradition.
This one will be different; just like all others after it.
Once she gets through Christmas, New Year’s celebrations are on the horizon, then Valentine’s Day and then the first birthday without him.
Matthew 5:4 tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” As the hands and feet of Jesus, we will comfort her. Romans 12:15 calls us to “…mourn with those who mourn”, so we will grieve with her. Then we will support her as she lives her new reality of a life punctuated by intermittent waves of grief.
This loss causes grief and hope to coexist in the same heartbeat.
Many of us have women in our lives who have suffered tremendous losses this year either through divorce, death or separation. For many of our sisters, the anticipation of the holidays that were once filled with joy are now replaced by pain, loneliness and the seemingly insurmountable task of finding a new normal. We grieve with those who have suffered close, heartbreaking losses this year, but we also pray their hope will be found in enjoying beauty in a way they’ve never experienced it before; amid grief.
Mourning amid celebration shapes the future of the holidays without their closest loved ones but we serve a God who doesn’t leave them without hope.
As we gather with them during the holidays, let’s take a moment to reflect on 3 ways to love on the women in our life as they continue life as it has never been.
- Allow them to celebrate the holiday the way they need to.
People handle loss differently. While some may be eager to gather after a period of isolation, others may find it too painful to relive the traditions that they celebrated with their loved ones. Take the time to ask them how they’d like to celebrate and understand they may want to do something out of the norm like travel or go volunteer in lieu of the traditional gathering. What’s important? Making sure they feel your love, support and attention most assuredly during this time. Offer to take over the responsibilities they normally handle during the holiday or if they have little ones, offer to babysit.
- Pray and pray some more.
James 5:16 reminds us that the prayers of the righteous availeth much, and I tend to believe we could never understand this side of heaven how much. The words we say, the consolation and comfort we give and the time we spend can only go so far. Their ability to thrive can’t depend solely on an ordinary love from an ordinary heart. They need us to intercede on their behalf to reach heaven, so God can literally carry them through the grief as only he can.
- Talk about their grief.
Years ago, I used to think not talking about the loss would spare the pain or help those I loved not to think about it. That is the furthest thing from the truth. Whether you acknowledge it or not, they are most likely always thinking about their loss and more so during the holiday. Acknowledging their grief is like opening a window giving them air to breathe. It gives them the opportunity to talk and openly process their emotions. I can only imagine the thousands of times a day they are bombarded with memories and/or fight back pain as they seek to find solace from their own minds.
The holidays are normally a joyous and beautiful time. However, when loss occurs that can make this time painful, messy and confusing. Although grief will most likely come in waves for a very, very long time, it can seem Goliath like during the holidays.
If you have suffered a loss and the thought of the holidays makes your heart ache with pain, please be reminded that there can still be beauty from your ashes and joy available for your mourning. God is SO, SO close to the brokenhearted and He desires for you to draw close to him and allow His strength to be made perfect in your weakness. Give yourself lots of grace, and remember the only way out is through.