When Christmas Hurts
Today we honor all those who have lost loved ones and struggle to be joyful and happy at Christmas. For us, Christmas hurts.
Holidays are a time for family gatherings, traditions, and friendship with those we love.
However, for many bereaved families, it is also the time of year we remember the ones in our lives who have died. We miss them and find it hard to celebrate…even the birth of Jesus!
My husband and I are visiting family in San Antonio, Texas. After arriving, I learned my sister-in-law’s close friend lost her companion to cancer…her dog she has loved and spent time with for years. Now, her apartment seems empty, and her pet’s death leaves a hole in her heart.
Also, my dear friend who I haven’t seen in fifteen years, flew here to spend time with me. We reconnected as if we hadn’t been apart, and shared memories about our friends and families. Her son, Ian, recently died of cancer at the age of forty-eight, and my son, Bart, died at sixteen twenty-four years ago.
My heart hurts for all who have lost loved ones.
They say the more we love, the more we hurt. The pain never goes away. We feel it less often, but the piercing sadness still overwhelms us in waves and often during holidays and special occasions.
I understand how Christmas can be joyful or sad and lonely. For me, even twenty-four years later, I still have waves of sadness at Christmas time. It took me years to listen to Christmas music, and I still can’t listen for a long time.
If your loss is recent, remember there is no right or wrong way to spend Christmas. Be kind to yourself, and don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
So, how do we cope when Christmas hurts?
From my experience, here are three ways to cope when Christmas hurts.
The first is to love and take care of yourself.
Do what YOU need instead of what everyone expects you to do.
Take a year off. Spend the day watching your favorite movies alone if that is what you want to do. You don’t have to put up a Christmas tree or send out holiday cards. If anyone asks, tell them you needed some time for yourself this year and hope to be back into the festivities next year.
The second way is to communicate with your loved one.
Here is a great poem!
The Window by Rumi
Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.
- Don’t stop talking to your loved one.
- Tell them how you feel.
- Journal your thoughts and memories.
- Write out your prayers.
Later, you can go back and read what you wrote. You may be surprised how your prayers have been answered and how much you have grown.
Lastly, trust in what you cannot see.
I love this quote by Saint Augustine:
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
Find HOPE in how much God loves you and will never leave you. He’s been there and knows how to comfort you.
Here is an acronym I created for HOPE.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8
I’ll leave you with this poem I wrote. I wish you a loving and hope-filled Christmas!
What Would You Do?
What would you do
If Jesus came to see you?
What if He sat
In a chair close to you?
Would Jesus speak first
Or would it be you?
What if He said,
“I know you are sad.
In your heart there’s a hole
That your loved one once filled.
You’re missing their presence
At this time of year.
Whatever you feel
I’m here to tell you
There is no other one
Who can fill you with peace
As you deal with your grief.
So lean against ME
And express ALL you feel.
I’ll always love you
And you’ll find ME near.
Written by Karyn Almendarez 12.17.21
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”