The holiday season is such a beautiful time of the year. Everyone seems happy, we’re all in the spirit of giving and everywhere you look there are beautiful Christmas trees and nativity scenes. For most of us, the holiday season is fun and carefree but for many others, the holiday season is a sobering time where we are reminded of the loved ones that we have lost and the memories that we will no longer have the chance to create with them. I decided against talking about it on the blog because honestly, I’m more of private griever, but in late September of this year, I lost my grandfather. It was difficult. He had fallen ill suddenly more than a year before his passing but because my husband and I are stationed pretty far from our family back home and I did not have the chance to see him often, I didn’t take the time to accept the fact that he was sick. Nor did I accept the possibility that he would never get better. So when he passed away, I was left to grieve both his sickness and his death. By God’s grace, every day gets easier and I’m slowly but surely getting used to the idea that I will never be able to spend another holiday season with him, receive a photo of him, or even receive a phone call to hear his voice. I know that I’m not alone in this and I know that there are so many other people that lost loved ones, whether it be 15 years ago or 15 days ago, so I wanted to share a few tips that may help those dealing with grief and loss as we approach this holiday season.
Take the time to talk to God and read scripture.
One of the best pieces of advice that I can give is to tell God how you really feel. One of the scriptures that I have been clinging to since the passing of my grandfather is Psalm 34:18. It says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” There is so much goodness wrapped up in this short verse. Number one, it tells us that God is compassionate. He loves us tremendously and he cares that we are hurting. Number two, it tells us that he wants to be there for us. Whenever you’re “there” for someone, what do you do? You lend a listening ear and you provide solid support. Even though he already knows how you feel (remember, The Father sacrificed his own son), he still wants to be the first one that you come to talk to and look to for support. And number three, it tells us that he wants to give us a way out of our dark place. Does this mean that we will lose our grief and sorrow overnight? Absolutely not. What it means is that he will give us incredible amounts of grace, strength, and joy when we look to him so that we can make it to the next day and the next day and the next one. Look up other scriptures on grief to write them down and meditate on them, turn on praise and worship music daily and bask in a moment of worship. God is willing to be there for us—we just have to let him in.
Enjoy the memories of the loved one that you’ve lost.
Depending on how long ago you lost your loved one, it can be difficult to look back on the memories that you’ve shared with them. Whenever you’re ready, take the time to actually enjoy the wonderful memories that brought you so much joy throughout your life—especially the ones from the holiday season. You can do this by yourself but if you have a close family member or friend that also shared those memories, call them up and enjoy a nice laugh or even a cry. It’s so therapeutic to be able to talk about the impact that your loved one has had on your life and the others around them. One of the fondest memories that I have of my grandfather during the holiday season was hearing him sing “White Christmas” by The Drifters in the backseat on my father’s truck on a holiday road trip. I’m sure I was the only one listening and at the time it didn’t seem very significant but now, it means so much to me and I’m able to think back on that day and smile.
Surround yourself with amazing friends and family.
If you’re like me and you tend to grieve alone, trust me when I say that it’s a great idea to surround yourself with people that love you and know how to show you a good time. We were never created to live life alone and I know that God created friends and loved one for tough moments like these. Get together with a few friends and host a white elephant gift exchange (we all know how fun those can be) or just go out for a holiday brunch. Laughter is the ultimate distraction from sorrow and good company brings a joy that could never be replicated alone. Even if you’re not feeling up to it, give yourself a little push and I can guarantee that you’ll be so happy that you did later.
Create or continue a tradition in their honor.
This may not work in every situation, but if possible, it may help to create something to look forward to during the holiday season in your late loved one’s honor. It doesn’t have to be anything major like creating a charitable event, even though that’s an awesome idea. It can be something as simple as doing something that you would always see them doing when the holiday season rolls around. For example, my late paternal grandfather would always buy a huge bag of shelled mixed nuts and fruit to give to my parents. Even after his passing, my parents would continue this tradition by putting out mixed nuts and fruit close to Christmas. I believe that we continue the memory of our loved ones through shared stories and passed down traditions. Creating one for your loved one could be the start of something that lasts through the generations.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone that is experiencing grief and loss this holiday season. I pray that these tips are useful and always remember that if you’re having a really tough time grieving, there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. The Father is always there to bring comfort and healing but he has been gracious enough to bless us with therapists that are trained to help us when we need them. God bless.
Are there any other tips that you would add to this list?