Finding Holiday Joy after the Death of a Loved One

By John Montgomery

The end-of-year holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s) can be the most wonderful, joyous, and hopeful time of the year. But since our relationships give the holidays special meaning, holiday celebrations after the death of a loved one can go from joyous occasions to tedious events that must be survived.

On Sunday, November 10th, the Xenos Grief Ministry will provide a two-hour workshop, Grief & the Holidays, utilizing the GriefShare videos. This workshop will help you not only to "survive the holidays," but to find strength, healing, and tools to move forward through the deep pain of grief. The workshop starts at 1:30 pm at the Warehouse (600 Oakland Park Ave., 43214).

This event can be a great opportunity to reach out to your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members who are in grief. It allows people in the local community to be aware of the kind of practical care they can receive from our fellowship. If someone you know would benefit from this workshop, please consider coming with him or her to support them.

There is no cost. To RSVP or ask any questions, please email xenosgriefgroups@gmail.com.

While no simple guidelines exist that will make your holidays painless, this workshop provides many practical, hope-inspiring ideas to help you deal with the many challenges that come this time of year. You will learn ways to minimize stress and lessen the likelihood that you will be caught off guard by difficult situations. The workshop presents a Biblical perspective on grief, suffering, and trust in God. It features practical suggestions and reassurance through interviews with counselors, grief experts, and others who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one.

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.

Remember, too, it is very normal and acceptable to have feelings of pain and joy simultaneously and to cry and laugh even while you grieve. Don’t be afraid to ask God for comfort and peace. He is the God of all comfort who comforts us in our suffering.

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 birth of Jesus, and God’s plan of salvation which resulted from his birth.

Believe it or not, it is possible to experience joy during the holiday season, even as you grieve.

The Xenos Grief Ministry will offer a 10-week workshop called “Navigating your Grief” beginning Wednesday, January 8th, at the 4th Street Pavilion. This workshop is designed to encourage, educate, and equip individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one.