coping during the holidays…

Bright lights, shiny tinsel, beautiful carols being sung… tis the season.  Tis the season for celebrating the birth of Jesus.  The season of extending a helping hand to those less fortunate than ourselves.  But for many, it’s the season that seems to shine a large spotlight on the empty chair at the dining table and the empty place in our hearts.

Death at any time is hard enough, but when the holidays approach, the realities begin to set in and the pain gets stronger.  Maybe it’s a favorite christmas carol, or perhaps a certain ‘smell’, or even a family tradition that is now awkward since that special someone is gone.  I hear you.  It is so wearisome.  Here are a few ideas to help you cope when the spirit starts to sag..

1.  pray…we should always start with prayer.  This is when we come to our Father and tell Him how much we hurt and how much we miss our loved one.  Tell Him!!  He knows our hurts and He wants to comfort us with His love and mercy.  Allow Him to love on you.  Sit quietly and feel His presence.

2.  allow yourself to do less…you are NOT a super hero.  You do NOT have to be the one that does it all.  Give yourself more downtime and really reflect on the reason for the season.  Christmas will not end if you don’t bake 4 dozen cookies, wrap all the presents and decorate your front yard.  Get some help and allow yourself to rest.

3.  volunteer…sometimes when we focus on others we tend to take our eyes off ourselves.  There are so many ways to volunteer during the holidays (and other times of the year too!) where we can help those that are less fortunate than us.  What about a local nursing home?  Inquire with the manager and find out if there are patients there without family and see if they might like a little christmas cheer!  You do not have to spend a lot of money.  Most people would love to just spend time with a friend that has taken time to care.

4.  surround yourself with friends/family…grieving at christmas is a time when YOU choose who you want to surround yourself with.  Don’t put yourself in a position where you are surrounded by negative or draining people.  This is where you make the call.

5.  give yourself permission to grieve…sometimes its just good to cry.  Some people like to keep busy and keep their emotions in check.  Others like to sit and reflect on the memories of their loved one.  Everyone is different and you should decide to give yourself some time to weep…Don’t hold back the tears because it is all a part of a process.  But remember in the weeping that God is sufficient and His grace is sufficient.

There are always going to be very unexpected moments of sorrow.  From a flashback of a ‘christmas past’ to a song playing in a busy mall.  There is no predicting the course that it will take or how long it will last.  And even though it may subside for a while, it will never fully go away.  I wish I could say that it does…..but we can go to our heavenly Father and ask Him to bring to our minds His word, and the truth of His presence.  He will hear your cry and slowly replace your sorrow with His joy.

You are not alone!  God loves you and wants you to have His peace.  I’m not just saying things that might work.  This has worked for me since I lost my little sweetheart seven years ago.  And now with his birthday coming up this Friday…well, I can say that I get a little weepy around Christmas.  And of course it’s only been 2 years since we lost Jimmy’s mother at Thanksgiving…and her birthday is Christmas Day.

But we can rejoice.  Even in all the sadness and sorrow, I CHOOSE to remember that a Savior was born to take away our sins and make an eternal home for us in heaven.  I CHOOSE to remember my children that are still here and need my love.  I am so very blessed and so are you.  Look around you and count your blessings.  You might be surprised!!  MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIENDS!!  (and always know that you can write me and I will pray for you!! It’s a privilege!)