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  • Writer's pictureSarah Howell

Grieving During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time in which I find great joy. The beauty of untouched snow in the morning, the twinkle of Christmas lights, and precious time spent with loved ones, the delightful food, and the wonderful celebration of the birth of our Savior. It is a time in which I find great comfort and gratitude. However, it is also a time in which I am filled with grief. You see, while the holidays are a wonderful time, it is also a time in which I fall at the feet of the Lord with great sadness. I remember my father, who passed when I was a young girl, and all the ways my family would look different if he was still around. I grieve the empty chair at the table. I wrestle with the Lord in my frustration. Why must families be so broken? Why must the holidays be a season I am so pressed to get through when they used to be something I would look forward to eagerly? And why must it get dark out so early? I know the answers to these questions in my head, the short answer being sin. But still, my heart struggles to catch up to the truth that my head knows. Perhaps you resonate with some of that. Weather that be grief regarding loved ones that are no longer with you, broken families that you pray would be made whole, or even grief over a time when the sun was warmer and stayed around longer. Regardless of what you are may find yourself grieving this season I pray you can find comfort and encouragement in the following words. Be attentive to the needs of your body.

In addition to grieving loved ones, we also grieve the days of warmth and sunshine. It can be so easy to slip into the winter blues if we are not caring for ourselves. Things like getting outside when you can, opening up the blinds to let in sun while its light out, and sticking to a routine can all help fight off those winter blues.

Make time for things that you enjoy.

For many the holidays can quickly become a time of chaos. Running around to different events, buying presents for loved ones and serving others are all great parts of the holiday season but when you throw that all on top of the heaviness of grief it can be overwhelming. You may find yourself no longer enjoying things that used to bring you joy. Maybe they have now become more of a checklist? Carving out time, even just thirty minutes a week, to do something for yourself, that you enjoy, can really help boost your overall mood throughout the season. I know for myself; you can find me treating myself to a peppermint mocha once a week during the holiday months. It is something so little, but it is something to look forward to during a season that can sometimes be rather glum. Stay in community.

Often when we are in a tidal wave of grief it can be so tempting to isolate from others. It is easier to sit in our sadness than it is to fight for what is true and good for our souls. My challenge for you would be this, in the seasons of grief that come with the holidays, press yourself to spend time with those that love you well. The Lord has provided friendship and community for a purpose, grab hold to it! (Proverbs 17:17, Galatians 6:2, Hebrews 10:25) Take comfort in the Lord, He grieves with you.

We are given such a clear depiction of grief in John 11:35. The verses simply states, “Jesus wept”. The verse is in context of Jesus weeping with Martha and several Jews who were at the tomb of Lazarus. Scripture tells us that when Jesus saw them weeping, He was deeply troubled. We then see a few verses later that he was so troubled to the point of weeping with them. Jesus knew how the story ended. He knew that moments later He would raise Lazarus from the dead. But still, he wept. My encouragement for you in it would be this, the Lord sees you in your grief. He is not removed from you pain but rather sits with you in it. As we go into the holiday season, press yourself to lean on the comfort of the Lord. He is near, and He cares for you. As you walk through grief this holiday season, or any season for that matter, my prayer would be this. That above all else, you would grab hold of the boundless grace the Lord offers, that you would press yourself to take time to meet with Him, and that you would be patient with yourself as you learn to walk through the trials and tribulations of this life. The Lord is near, and He cares deeply for YOU!

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