The late comedian and actor, George Burns, once said: “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
You might especially agree after the holidays!
But what about those loved ones—friends and family you deeply loved—who left you?
Someone else said: “The hardest grief is when the person you love is still walking around.”
What about the loved one you feel was taken from you? The friend, spouse, parent, child whose life on this earth came to a slow or sudden end?
This is the hardest.
There are bad days and better days that follow. Over time and by God’s grace your better days begin catching up with your bad days.
You start getting your feet under you. You’re back on speaking terms with God. You’re tasting hope again.
But then Christmas comes along.
You’re still not over it. You were never really over it.
Christmas reminds you of that.
What to do?
God shows the way for you to have Christmas hope not in spite of your pain but with your pain.
Here are few thoughts to help you cope and hope:
Pour out your heart.
When you most do not want to pray or cannot pray that’s especially when you must pray. Can’t pray because the lump in your throat is too much, or your tears too hot? Can’t find the words because your mind is too dark, and your heart too broken? God’s Holy Spirit prays for you in those moments with groans on your behalf (Romans 8:26). Think of Him. See yourself leaning into Him as He holds You and groans for You to the Father.
Cling to God’s Word.
Discipline yourself to read the Scriptures especially in your agony. Read the Christmas story and the Psalms slowly. And let them slowly read… and minister to you. Ask God to show Himself to you through His Word in a way unlike you have ever known. Watch every word of the Scripture passage closely. Read the passage(s) like it’s your first time to do so. Pay close attention to what God whispers to your mind or prompts in your heart.
Talk it through.
You were never meant to do life alone. You were especially not meant to navigate your emptiness and loss alone. Reach out to Christian friends. Ask to meet for coffee. Tell them why. Tell them Christmas is still very hard for you and you just need someone to talk it through. Don’t buy into the “I just don’t want to bother (or keep bothering) them. They probably think I should be over it by now.” No. Tell them you’re not over it. Perhaps ask if every Christmas you can meet with them to get your bearings. Or see a Christian counselor during the holidays.
Be with God’s people.
Don’t isolate yourself from the gathering of God’s people for worship. Worship focuses you on God and off of yourself. Worship lifts your broken heart to God. Worship begs Christ to come and fill the broken spaces with Himself. When you most want to avoid Church is when you most need to be there. Where is God when you hurt? He’s with His people. Be with God’s people. You may discover the hug, the smile, the word, the song, the message that your heart was most crying out for.
Emptiness, pain, and loss understandably make us self-absorbed. So turn from self and give all the hurt to God. You can practically do so by giving yourself to others. Who can you serve? Who can you help? Who can you visit and encourage? Who can you secretly bless? Serving is a salve to the soul.
Praying for you.
[Post updated December 12, 2018]