The day after Thanksgiving, I dug out all my Christmas decorations, and began the two-day process of tree decorating and hanging lights. My enthusiasm for adorning my house with holiday cheer began to wane shortly after plowing through my Christmas boxes that have been stored neatly in my attic all year. In those Christmas boxes are stored some of my most cherished memories of my family, however, some of the keepsakes are reminders that those loved ones are longer with me or some are far away like my prodigal son.
I did not feel so festive after going through the boxes and remembering when my son was small and I could protect him still (or so I thought) from the big, bad world, and now I am not sure where he is living. I had Christmas music playing in the background and that took me to a time when my grandmother was here and she loved Christmas. At first hearing the Christmas music made my smile, but then I started feeling sad. I started to miss my grandmother terribly, she was what kept my family together, but since her passing my family has been torn-apart in so many ways. I now spend Christmas going from one family member’s house to another, instead of just being able for my entire family to be at my grandmother’s house.
I do not know how you cope during the holidays if you have had any losses or pain in your life, but I would recommend doing what you can do. Do not feel pressure to attend Christmas parties or programs. I recently had a Christmas program at my church, and I really wanted to go; but I was having a bad day and I did not feel that I could handle going. Why, you may ask? I knew I was already feeling a bit emotional and hearing certain Christmas songs would most likely make me sad and being around others who have family might also make me feel sad. I do what I can, and I no longer feel guilty when I cannot be and do what EVERYBODY else is doing. I still do things around this time, such as attending an outdoor light show or placing “blessing boxes” on my neighbors doorsteps, but I have finally come to the realization that I am not able to do everything (even if other people will not understand). I will also attend the Christmas communion service at my church.
The holidays can be a mix of emotions for people, it can bring out some of our fondest memories as well as our deepest pain. More people commit suicide this time of year than any other, and depression and anxiety are high around the holidays. More people are likely to use alcohol or drugs to cope with pain and loss, not to mention the stress!
Acknowledge that you have pain, do not try and stuff it or hide it away. Bring your hurt to Jesus, and ask Him to bring you comfort and peace. Do not isolate yourself, BUT DO WHAT YOU CAN DO! If you can only handle having coffee with a friend versus going to the Christmas play at church, then do what will be best for you. Keep in the presence of the Lord by praying, praising Him, and reading the Word–this is the most important detail to keep you in perfect peace. Create new memories and traditions. This year I added new outdoor lights, and that is a new memory because I have said for years that I love Christmas lights and wanted to add many to my home. I also started a new tradition last year in baking Jesus a birthday cake.
Keep in mind that you are not alone, there are others who are lonely, sad, maybe depressed or anxious this time of year. Christ is our focus this time of year, it is our time to reflect on His birth. It is okay if you are not able to celebrate like others, ask the Lord what He should have you to do or not to do.
Do something you enjoy doing this Christmas!
“Jesus heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:13
My prayer for the hurting this time of year:
We come before you and ask that you touch each hurting heart and place your healing hands upon their hearts. Be with them through this joyous and sometimes painful time, bring them a comfort and a peace that can come only from you. Let their sleep be peaceful and restful, and fill them with your presence and angels at night. Father, touch each home that is affected by loneliness or grief, and embrace them tenderly. God you know every hurting person out there and you know their needs, please be real to them today and pour out your love in real and authentic ways. Jesus we love you, we need you, please bring your strength. Jesus may we celebrate your day with awe and wonder, and may our focus be upon you.
In your name Jesus, amen
How do you cope with pain and loss during the holidays? What can we pray for you? It is our honor and a privilege to do so. God bless you all this Christmas season.