The holiday season can be tricky.
It is supposed to be a time of great fun and frivolity…a season of parties, carols, feasting, presents, bright lights, excitement, and anticipation…the most wonderful time of the year! And sometimes it is.
Yet, it is also a time of tremendous pain, especially for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one or are dealing with heartbreak. For them, the brightness of the season blazing into their sadness is like rubbing salt into an open wound. It hurts. I know. I have been there.
So how to cope? Here are some of the things that helped me when I walked through the holiday season after losing my dad:
1) Accept that the holidays will never be the same if you have lost a loved one.
They can’t be. That person will always be missed. You can’t recreate what it was like when they were there, so do not try.
2) Let it be what it is.
Don’t try to work up feelings that aren’t there and acknowledge whatever you do feel. Don’t allow the culture or family and friends to dictate what your Christmas should look like. Life is not a Norman Rockwell painting. Life can hurt and it’s okay if you are not in the celebratory mood that the season seems to demand.
If you need to cry…cry.
If you need to be alone…it’s okay to not accept every invitation.
If the very thought of decorating is exhausting to you, don’t.
Keep a running dialogue going with Jesus. He hears. He understands. He can carry the burden of your grief.
3) Avoid unrealistic expectations.
This one is huge. It’s easy to buy into the hype and feel pressured to have the”perfect” Christmas. The truth is that there is no such thing. Take each day as it as it comes and release yourself from impossible, impractical or unworkable burdens.
4) Make an effort to focus on the blessings you do have.
You may not feel like your life contains any blessings but that is not true. Ask God to open your eyes to the gifts He has placed all around you, no matter how small. He will show you.
5) Know that you will laugh again.
The joy of the holidays will return with the passage of time. I don’t believe in the saying that ‘time heals all wounds.’ Time can ease the pain, yes. However, Jesus heals all wounds…if we will allow Him to. Give Him unreserved access to your wounded heart.
6) Resist self-absorption: be a blessing to someone else.
You are not the only one who is hurting. Continuing to look inward is a recipe for despair and bitterness. You have gifts to offer the world around you and there is a vast sea of need. No act of kindness is too small. Reach out and make a difference in the life of someone else. You will be blessed, I promise.
7) Remember the reason for the season.
…”the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said them, ” Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:6-11
On that first Christmas, the Lord God gave us the greatest, most staggering gift that ever was…a gift we will continue to unwrap for all eternity.
Because of Jesus’ arrival on our planet over 2000 years ago, believers are:
*Offered the priceless gifts of hope, grace, light, purpose, renewal, restoration, redemption, new life and joy, regardless of circumstances.
Even if you feel alone while the world celebrates around you, you are not alone.
He is with you and He will pour His strength into your heart to enable you to live through this season. He will bring you out to the other side.
He makes all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
For unto us a child is born, to us, a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Is. 9:6