Holiday Survival

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:



*Loved unconditionally

* Safe


*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 



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9 responses to “Holiday Survival

  1. Jackie

    Beautiful! Comfort for so many.

  2. The Elaine

    WOW, Susan, you hit the target on this one–especially #1. Acceptance to the change is such a big accomplishment in facing the holidays. #5 was one that “talked” to me. You know I love to laugh and after Don died, I never thought I would laugh–really laugh and deep inside feel it–but with God’s grace, I not only laugh but laugh more and hearter than ever before. The first Christmas Eve without Don, the 43rd anniversary of his proposal to me, was difficult sitting in the same church knowing how thrilled I was about to become in a few hours when he popped the question. What hurt so much that night, has become a wonderful Christmas Eve memory to me now. I know this blog has to be a help to those who are hurting now.

  3. Well written and said Susan. On #3: My AmerIndian friends tell me nothing on earth is perfect and it’s useless and futile to try and follow a path to perfection– something only available through God. Everything a Native American would craft, whether a beaded strap, piece of clothing or other handmade good, would intentionally have a slight imperfection worked into it to prove this point.

  4. Destiny

    This is such an important, and revelant, post at Christmas, when so many are hurting and suffering tremendous loss. My friend, Chris, just lost her mother and I am going to recommend that she pop over to read this post. I think it will encourage her, especially since her loss and grief is so new. ox, Destiny

  5. Aunt Evelyn

    No, 3—Learned this one several years ago when I was frantically trying to make it all perfect. Ended up in the ER with what I thought was a heart attack. Thank God it wasn’t. Just Stress!

    The family photo I posted on FB is another example. We were virtually out the door when we decided we had to do the photo shoot. I have on my scarf and Ann Marie has on both her scarf and coat! Bedtime for Gus, hence PJs on. Lila decides to exercise her lungs. All the tree ornaments are hidden behind us because Gus lovingly placed them at his eye level! So imperfect on many levels. But that is what makes it Perfect.

  6. Aunt Evelyn

    continued…. My computer kicked me out. Imperfect photo that will make us laugh in years to come. I love it. And, I love you. Wishing you all the Blessings of the Season.

    • Aunt Evelyn,
      I am so glad you took the time to take that photo…as you said, it is the imperfection that makes it perfect! You will all treasure it in the years to come. Thanks for taking the time to stop by…I love you too! 🙂

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