The holiday season brings fellowship and hope to the world but the next few weeks also usher in a deeper level of sadness and despair for people living with grief and loss.

For many…

  • A simple trip to the grocery store provokes unexpected, choking tears while standing in front of store shelves and mindlessly looking at canned goods.
  • Dark nights overwhelm when grief sweeps in with swirls of chaos and pain.
  • The year of “firsts” after loss sears the soul in a way nothing else can.
  • In all honesty, sometimes the year of “seconds” isn’t much better.

You see, that first year after loss you brace for each holiday, celebration, or memorial marker for the person who is now missing from this earthly life. There is a certain expected pain and you do your best to prepare and face it down.

Once you successfully make it through the first year, there is a feeling of relief. “Now the firsts are in the past and it can only get better, right?” Therefore, the year of “seconds” might be met with little expectation or preparation and the extraordinary flashes of pain zoom in out of left field.

So often in the storm’s eye and aftermath, grief leads to feelings of uncontrolled mess. Wherever you are on your grief journey this year, I want to encourage you as we enter the holiday season.

And…

If you know someone in the middle of fresh grief or have a friend or loved one traveling the longterm grief highway, this is for you too.

Reach In

In the midst of holiday celebrations and gatherings, many walk around with the face of  “I’m okay” firmly in place but are crumbling inside.

Please reach in to the life of someone you know. Make a special plan to spend time with them between now and the New Year. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.

Spend time together in community enjoying a cup of coffee, driving around to look at shiny Christmas lights, attending a local Christmas event or show. Talk to them about their situation if they are willing. Reach out and ask and also offer understanding if they don’t want to discuss their grief.

Grief reality provides an unwanted entity that accompanies them each day and they need a break from their current normal.

Reach Out

If you are overwhelmed with memories or pain this season, please reach out to someone you love and trust. I know it can feel like the biggest hurdle to get over but so often our friends and loved ones don’t know what to do and are wary to reach in and cause more pain or they are just uncomfortable dealing with pain. “But it isn’t my job to help them get comfortable, I have my own junk to deal with,” you might be saying to me right now.

I get it. Truly.

However…

When you offer the tiniest bit of encouragement and outreach to those who care for you, they could respond by joining in and becoming people you desperately need to help cope with your sadness and despair.

We need each other.

We were created for community.

Practical Acts

One specific way to practically act this holiday season is to handwrite a letter.

Yes, handwritten.

A handwritten letter or note holds layers of meaning and touches our souls with the warmth of friendship and personalization that fonts on a screen cannot.

Reach in to another’s grief world and offer them your love and support. Tell them you are thinking of them this holiday season, holding them close in thoughts and prayers. Avoid clichés and advice. Just give them you and a bit of your heart and love.

Reach out (around your grief) to write a letter of thanks to someone who holds a special place in your world—due to recent involvement, throughout your life, or waaaaaaay back in your past.

Writing to and focusing on others who had or have an impact takes your focus off of pain for a bit, will encourage and bless them with the knowledge of purpose in their life, and will warm your heart and bring to mind the many blessings of your life.

This won’t remove your loss or miraculously fix your grief.

It can begin to help with the raw chaos.

It can give you a feeling of something positive in your life for the holidays in spite of the grief reality. Your thoughtful, appreciative, loving words could be used by God to speak life into someone who really needs the affirmation. (I was the recipient of life-giving words this week by someone in the middle of grief. They bolstered and affirmed me in an incredible way.)

During the upcoming holiday season and beyond…

Reach in to someone’s life to offer love and encouragement by writing a letter of support.

Reach out to someone’s life to offer thankful specifics on the positive impact they’ve had on your life.

Brighten up the dark of winter with letters of hope for the holiday season.

I am praying for you.

May you feel the comfort, peace, and joy of Almighty God this season and beyond.