“Sometimes, Christmas makes me cry.” What an odd Christmas lyric, huh? Especially in the midst of “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”. But, it’s true. Christmas and tears can be a thing. And, this isn’t the, “Jason’s home from college” Folger’s commerical tears, either. So, what’s up with this?
There’s ugly sweaters. Christmas parties. And, much mistletoeing. Yet, you feel empty. Why? It’s called grief, and it’s a real thing.
Whether you’ve recently lost a loved one, and this is your first Christmas apart, or it’s been over 10 years – it can still suck the life out of you. You walk around and see everyone saying, “Merry Chritmas Darling’, and you’re asking yourself, “Where’s my Joy to the world?”
First of all. I’m sorry. I hate that you’re going through this. Grief sucks. It’s painful, it’s hard to talk about, and it leaves a whopping hole in your heart. I know, because I’ve been there.
It was Christmas, 2000, when my world changed. Christmas morning, my sister, Kelly, was fighting a disease called Wegener’s. Wegener’s basically shuts down your organs. (This is the cut to the chase definition) Anyway, that Christmas morning, she was dealing with more pain, and she needed to be seen by a Doctor. That morning, her journey to the finish line began. She was admitted into the hospital, and never left. January 9, 2001, Kelly slipped into the arms of Jesus.
I miss her. She never got an opportunity to watch my family grow. And, every Christmas, something is missing. Now don’t get me wrong, I know she’s with Jesus in Heaven. Before she died, I asked her “the million dollar question”, ‘Have you asked Jesus into your life?’ She assured me, “yes!” So, even though she’s not here, I know she’s enjoying eternity in Heaven. That’s the best day ever!! Yet, a hole still exists.
That was 18 years ago, and I still miss her.
It seems that lately, I’ve encountered many people dealing with grief this time of year. I spoke with a woman who suddenly lost her husband. A friend who is missing his best friend. A young mom who still misses moments spent with her mom. These are real conversations, with real people, experiencing real grief.
I want you to know something – time does help. But, that doesnt mean it goes away.
We find ways to honor our loved ones. A toast. A tattoo. A memorial. I think all of those are amazing things. But, then there’s the moment when you come across that Molassess Cookie recipe handwritten by your Grandma before she died. One look at that paper, and you begin to tear up. What’s up with that? It’s a piece of paper with ink that’s been in your cupboard for years. Simple. Smudged. Stained. Or, maybe it’s an ornament. Even Facebook, when that ‘memory’ pops up that nobody else can see, but you. And again, the tears begin to flow.
So how do you deal with it?Runners might lace up their shoes and hit the trail. Readers might bury themselves in a novel. Some work overtime with a goal of simply making it through another day.
Then, there are some who choose substance abuse, seclusion, and some contemplate suicide. All of these are not healthy. Please seek help! Professional help. Counselors are trained for things like this. And, asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness.
J.D. Greear writes, “In times of suffering, we have three options. We can (1) abandon our faith in God, (2) ignore the pain, or (3) allow the pain to drive us deeper into the gospel. Only by allowing the Gospel to speak to our deepest hurts will we ever gain the true hope and comfort our souls yearn for”.
If you’re lacking peace, love, joy or hope, caused by grief, please know that Jesus is there for you, too.
My hope, and prayer, is that you find hope and comfort in the midst of your grief. For me, I found that in Jesus. I encourage you to seek him, too. He IS my counselor. He IS my peace. He IS my hope. He IS my source of joy. Yes, even at times when Christmas makes me cry.