I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, will have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! I’ve been wanting to share my heart on a topic that I first handedly am experiencing. To any of you who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, you are not alone in your grief many of us are dealing with the same kind of emotions. Since the loss of my dad I have been on a journey back to a new sense of “normal.” Loosing a parent has always been one of my greatest fears in life. I’ve been blessed with two wonderful parents my entire life and its easy to say, I have experienced great loss. Now that I have first handedly experienced this kind of pain, I can honestly say that the pain never really goes away. It’s a lonely heart aching pain that is typically relieved with lonely tears and falling down to my knees. Since he’s been gone, I have been overwhelmed by a supernatural perfect love from God and in those moments I never feel guilt for my tears. In fact, my tears have been a gift. They have helped me in my process of healing. If your suffering, I just want you to know that it’s okay to cry. (Matthew 5:4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
I’ve spoken to many people that have lost their loved ones and they’ve said that the first year is usually the hardest. Especially, during the holidays. My father has always loved the holidays mostly, because being together with family and friends brought him so much joy so being without him this season has been especially hard. I have put together a list that I think is beneficial to consider about those who are grieving during this time. Also sharing some tips that have helped me during this holiday season. I hope you will find it beneficial to share with others who might need these reminders. One thing that I have noticed is that people really do care. They just don’t know how to intentionally care for you during this season, or just haven’t found the right words to say. I hope by passing these tips along you will help someone help someone else.
1. A Merry Christmas might not be so merry for someone else. You have to accept and respect that about those that are grieving. Show the grieving that you care and understand. Sometimes showing someone you understand comes in the form of a “thinking of you” small gift or a sincere letter letting them know that they are in your thoughts. Most important of all, point them to Christ in love! Tell them that this season is about the one who will rescue us from a sad/ dying world and that He promises to renew the souls of His people and will bring us ultimate joy in the end. Happiness is only temporary, but joy is eternal. (1 Peter 1:6-7) In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuinenessof your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
2. Remembering your loved one during the holidays. It’s so crucial to remember. It honors the loved one that has passed away and keeps memories alive, which makes the absence of that loved one a lot less painful. Everyone grieves differently and sometimes the griever may not be willing to talk about their loss, but in the long run talking about it helps more then not talking about it at all. It’s never “ok” to bottle up your emotions and avoiding your loss is worse then dealing with it. If someone in your life has lost a loved one, I challenge you to bring up that person who has passed away in a conversation. You can start by simply asking them what their favorite memories are. Ask them to share those special times with you. You are doing more harm then good by not bringing it up. In the end we grievers will feel thankful and appreciated because you are acknowledging how important that loss has been. Believe me, It becomes less lonely when the griever knows they are being heard. If you are grieving don’t be afraid to mention your loved one that has passed away in a conversation. Remembering is part of the process to healing. Your memories in the end are all you have left from the person that has passed.
3. Just because the griever seems okay, doesn’t mean they feel okay. Something that is forever true is that as individuals, we need community. We need to have that support from family, friends, and our church. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is a listening ear. Simply asking the griever how they are doing goes a long way. A simple “I’m thinking about you during this difficult time and holiday season” goes a long way too! The holidays remind many of us of all the special memories we shared with our loved ones that are no longer here and how hard it’s going to be doing those things without them. Its so important to recognize that this is the hard reality grievers are going through during this time and that though we smile, it doesn’t mean the pain has gone away.
4. For the griever, its vital to make time for yourself. As a busy stay at home mom, it’s important that I get time alone to read and pray. I take advantage of this time when my daughter naps. Or my family will watch her while I go workout or run errand to take my mind away. Do something that helps you refocus your mind, refresh your body, or renew your spirit. Simply taking a nap and resting is a great way to recharge. Having alone time has helped me tremendously. Sometimes, isolation can help you think clearly about your grief and what has happened. It’s an opportunity to fall to your knees to the only ONE that can make things right. JESUS! The most important thing you can do for yourself is spend time with God and learn about his word and what he has to say about grief and death. This is a topic that I have grown to understand so much more since my dad passed and it has given me so much peace and has helped me in the my journey of healing. I have assurance that my father is in a better place and I know that the pain of missing him is temporary not eternal.
‘5. Make new traditions and draw comfort from doing for others. This is the first year we celebrate advent as a family. Advent refers to the time that leads up to the coming of Christ at Christmas. As a family we are doing advent readings, a calendar and wreath with candles. Celebrating advent has helped us keep our minds on Christ and less on the things we can’t control. I want this tradition to carry on for years to come. You can also create a new tradition in memory of your loved one. Make their favorite meal during the holidays as a staple for every year to come. Also, making a memorial ornament in honor of a loved would make a great gift to some who is grieving. It is a true blessing to be a blessing to others so don’t be discouraged to go above and beyond for someone else who needs love. Taking our minds away from our grief and extending a helping hand for someone else can help you heal and can help you see the bigger picture.
6. Lastly, don’t feel bad about being happy during the holidays. It is okay to smile and mean it. It okay to laugh at something that is funny and it’s okay to not feel sad on certain days. Your loved ones would never want you to suffer. See it as it being gift to honor your loved one by having joy and sharing it with others. This too is true when you are sad don’t feel bad about feeling low. I myself have had my good days and bad days. I am now at a point where i don’t feel guilt about any kind of day i end up having. For some this may take longer than others. Now, my emotions don’t dictate my peace because no matter what I am deciding to cling to the promises of God. I hope you would too! Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.Do not be conceited. This is incredibly true. Be this person for someone who really needs this person during this season grieve with those who grieve and rejoice with those that are rejoicing.
Every time I read “Jesus is the reason for the season” on bumper stickers, I can’t help but repeat it to myself. Yes, Jesus is the reason for this season and God had a purpose to call my dad home. Jesus being fully man and fully God means, He can do what others cannot! This is the greatest truth and benefit that I wish for you to know. He (Jesus) can bring an end to our misery. REST ON THIS as you grieve during the holidays.
Im sincerely praying for you (whoever you are) and for me right now! Believe me when I say, God knows our pain and it won’t last forever.?