By John Montgomery
As the end of the year approaches, soon everywhere we turn someone will be telling us we should be happy.
“Happy Thanksgiving!” “Merry Christmas!” “Happy New Year!”
This can be difficult when you are in grief. Grief can steal the joy from your holiday celebrations.
The Xenos GriefShare ministry will present “Surviving the Holidays” on Sunday, October 28th, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at the Warehouse (600 Oakland Park Av. 43214). This informative seminar can help those who are grieving find God’s hope and comfort during the upcoming holiday season.
Please encourage anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one to attend. There is no cost. To RSVP or ask questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This seminar is presented every fall at Xenos because Thanksgiving and Christmas present special challenges. Holidays evoke strong emotions during the best of times, but, in grief, they force us to realize how much our lives have been changed by loss. No matter how long it’s been since your loved one died, grief can make the holidays a painful time.
Grieving takes energy and you may not be up to the physical and mental challenges of the many activities in which you usually participate. You may find yourself in social situations that now are uncomfortable because of your different circumstances.
If you’ve suffered a loss, you should feel the freedom to allow yourself a different holiday from your norm. Do what comforts and nourishes you; what you are capable of doing. Simplify what you customarily did in the past. You might decorate but on a smaller scale. You might reduce gift giving or decline some party invitations. Do what you can and let that be enough.
Additionally, it’s wise to have a practical strategy for the coming weeks. You should prepare for those uncomfortable moments, thoughtless questions, and awkward remarks that are inevitable. In your mind, determine how you will answer, and stick with your rehearsed answers. If you might be “trapped” in a social setting, drive your own car. Or if you go with someone for support, choose a friend who is sensitive to your situation.
Above all, you should not forget the spiritual truths of Christmas, and find comfort in them. The upcoming holidays may not be joyful for you but it can still be an opportunity to give thanks for the life that came into this world at the birth of Jesus. Reflect on what is most meaningful to you. Don’t be afraid to ask God for comfort and peace. Remember, too, it is very normal and acceptable to have feelings of pain and joy simultaneously and to cry and laugh even while we grieve.
The GriefShare ministry also offers a 10-week class helping participants find comfort and hope in God’s perspective on their loss. The next session starts January 2rd at the 4th Street Pavilion.