It was a frigid December day and just five days before Christmas.
Everything was cold including the church pew I sat in with my family. I couldn’t help but marvel at the beauty before me. This was my childhood church and I had attended many a service in it during Christmastime, but never had I seen the sanctuary look this breathtaking. A brightly lit Christmas tree. A perfectly displayed manger scene. And, some of the most gorgeous red poinsettias I’ve ever seen filled the front of the church.
You’d think with such beauty this would be a special day during Christmastime. But, I was saying goodbye to my mother at her funeral.
Who buries their mother just five days before Christmas? When the rest of the world is rockin’ around the Christmas tree and making their lists and checking them twice, how is one supposed to mourn the loss of her best friend during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year?
Christmas 2006 wasn’t very merry.
Mom passed away December 16. The days immediately following were foggy at best. I don’t remember much. We planned her services and made necessary decisions. We chose flowers, a casket, and scriptures to be read at her funeral. Thankfully I had finished my shopping early, and prepared all I could for Christmas. What I couldn’t prepare for, however, was losing Mom so close to Christmas, my favorite holiday.
Our children were 12 and 9 years old. They dearly loved their grandma and were grieving in their own way. I so wanted to make their Christmas special. I desired to give them a merry Christmas. But, my own grieving stood in the way. I couldn’t function, let alone facilitate a merry Christmas.
It was our first ever Christmas at home by ourselves. I sat on our living room floor and cried through opening presents Christmas morning. I cried through our dinner. We all cried and mourned and held each other throughout the day.
I understand grieving at Christmastime.
The heartache of the absence of our loved one is real. It can be overwhelming and consuming, no matter what time of year the loss occurs. The first Christmas without our loved one can be especially difficult. Life isn’t the same without him or her and we wonder how will we ever make it through?
As trite as it may read, I couldn’t have gotten through that pain without my faith. I cried out to God often, and He answered me. I could feel His presence close in those days, and I firmly believe He caused situations and circumstances of blessing to appear in our lives. Even though it was the most difficult time in my life thus far, because of His presence, it was also one of the most blessed.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 NLT
How does one survive grieving the loss of a loved one during the holidays?
I can only share of what I know and of my experience. Grieving may be different for each one of us, and there’s no cookie-cutter way to do so. Looking back, however, a few things helped me:
We started new traditions that very first Christmas in Mom’s absence. They’ve become ones we enjoy each year.
I let myself be sad. Instead of burying how I felt, I gave myself permission to feel any and all emotions.
I surrounded myself with people who cared about me and who loved me. They allowed me to grieve and even grieved with me.
Probably most importantly, I drew near to God. I read through the Psalms and asked God to infuse hope into my heart. Christmas and the birth of Jesus took an entirely new meaning for me that year. I became increasingly grateful for the hope we have in Jesus.
God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort! Matthew 5:4 CEV
I took care of myself. That may look differently for all of us. I also allowed myself to just “be.”
I’m sorry if you’re finding yourself grieving the loss of a loved one this season. I’m so very sorry. Please know you’re not alone in your grief. God is with you, He’ll meet you in your grief, and will comfort you.
God is with us, friend. He is Emmanuel.
P.S. 11 years later I still miss Mom, especially at Christmas, but the grief has been replaced with eternal hope. Some day I’ll see her again!
This post was adapted from it’s original version from the Rediscovering Christmas series. Linking this post with friend Anita.
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