Human Interest

When the Holidays Hurt

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The heartbeat of the holiday spirit is a long-established time of happiness and celebration. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of mixed emotions. It can be some of toughest times one can experience. Amidst the enjoyment, there can also be a significant amount of pain, because the season amplifies the sense of loss.

The loss of my husband over seven years ago has proven to be more difficult than I ever anticipated during the holiday season. As a certificated Biblical Counselor, and working with individuals who have experienced a loss – simply knowing the process was of little comfort to me initially.

What made my experience so difficult; Christmas, was a super special time of the year for my husband. He loved every part of it from putting up the Christmas tree, special decorations, planning, and purchasing special presents for everyone, as well as a special time for each to share with each other. This year is the first time I actually put up a tree, partly because I hosted a group of business partners. The part that was painful was placing the ornaments we purchased during our extensive travel for various parts of the world.

First, let me say, there is no quick relief for getting rid of the pain of losing a love one. It simply hurts too much. No matter how supportive friends and family are and no matter the length of time of the loss, deeply broken hearts often heals slowly. Thankfully, God does use the loving support of friends and family and the passage of time to heal hurting hearts. Be cognizant of the fact that there is no right or wrong approach to the holidays. Do what is best for you!

These are Some of the Ways I Used to Help Minimize the Pain:

  1. Make specific plans

The first year was the most difficult, and no one knows you better than yourself. Because I know it would be difficult, I planned to spend the time alone. I knew it would be painful; however, it was less painful than to be with his family or my family and not have my husband there. For me, the pain would be greater than simply being alone. Now, this may or may not work for everyone because it is a personal decision. However, the years thereafter were less painful. Planning a trip or visiting friends and family out of town can be helpful. This is not running away from grief, simply changing your environment. 

  1. Allow your church / support group to help.

Another important step in overcoming grief is to share it with others. As founder of a support group many years ago; I am real clear how valuable it is to be a part of a group of common concerns and goals. Reaching out to your church / faith community is equally important for spiritual guidance and support is vital. The benefit of a group(s) offer listening ears and helpful encouragement, commonality, and guidance in working through the grief. When we share our stories with God and others, our grief is lessened. As a Christian, the Body of Christ is designed to ease the burdens of its individual members with the ability to “mourn with those who mourn” We are reminded to “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2.

          He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. Psalm 147:3 (NLT)

  1. Stand on the assurance of scripture

Sadly, grief is a part of life and is a natural response to loss.   It is an emotion common to the human experience. The Lord Jesus Christ understands our pain. The Apostle John reminds us that “Christ came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” John 1:11. Our hope is found in the arms of Christ and He is strong and able to carry our burdens. Time after time, the Word of God promises comfort from sorrow, healing from hurts, and peace in place of pain. Stand on the promises of God’s Word and claim them for yourself.

  • “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak … those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” Isaiah 40:29 & 31.
  • We can give our hurt to Him because He cares for us. We can find solace in the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Paraclete. 1 Peter 5:7.
  • He is able to “empathize with our weaknesses.”   Hebrews 4:15.
  • He weeps with those who weep. John 11:35.
  • “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4. Allow the Word of God to soothe your spirit. Ask God to protect you from being “captivated” by grief and give you strength when you are feeling “crushed.”
  1. Keep expectations reasonable.

Keep your expectations realistic. There is nothing wrong with grieving. Overcoming grief is having the right perspective. First, we recognize that grief is an accepted response to pain and loss. Second, accept the fact that the period of grief serves a purpose. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” This verse implies that grief can be good because it can restore our perspective on life. Third, we remember that the emotions of grief are transitory. The Psalmist reminds us that “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” There is an end to mourning. Grief has its function, but it also has its border line.

  1. Remember the loved one who died.

The most terrible thing a family can do is to try to ignore the reality of the loss of a love one. It is simply impractical, too painful to deny the fact that a loved one has died and absent during the holiday. Remember the loved one who died by during something special at meal time – lighting a candle, placing a favorite ornament on the tree, or speak about that person and share memories. This will often allow family and friends to refocus rather than attempt try to minimize their absence.

  1. Expand your “Family” at holiday time.

Invite family, friends, church members, and distant relatives to share Christmas dinner. This year, I had the opportunity to share a pre-Christmas Celebration with my business partners / groups to share in the putting up of a Christmas tree. It was wonderful laughter, fellowship and sharing with my mentor of all of the Christmas ornaments we acquired during our travel to various places around the world.

  1. Don’t feel you have to do it all.

Although this is difficult for me; it is okay to allow family and friends assist you with shopping, cooking, wrapping gifts, and many other details connected with the holidays. I am passed crowded malls. Shopping via catalogs and the Internet has worked out just fine. I had to remind myself, that the holidays will still take place even if you don’t get everything done as you did in previous years.

  1. Take care of  yourself physically

As a Registered Nurse, I am cognizant of how physically draining the holidays can be especially if this is your first experience with a holiday since the death of your loved one. Remember to take care of yourself. Listen to your mind, body, and spirit. Know when you may need to divert your attention to some less stressful activity. Remember to eat correctly, drink plenty of water, get plenty of exercise, and get the proper rest. This will help you to stay focused remain as healthy as possible. Be aware that the holidays can be draining without the additional pain of losing a love one.

  1. Guard your heart

No one knows your grief better than you do. During the holidays, when people extend invitations or ask you to take on tasks, give yourself permission to say “no thank you” or “I’ll pass on it for now.” Another way of protecting personal boundaries is to accept an invitation but with some limits. I have often had problems saying NO! However, this kind of statement is an absolutely appropriate response to an invitation: “Yes, I will be happy to join you, but please know that I may have to excuse myself a little earlier than others.” I have found that most people in the grieving process say that often the anticipation of the holiday is always much worse than the holiday itself. Be assured that, with God’s grace, the day will not be nearly as difficult as you think it will.

  1. Keep the proper focus.

Celebrating the real reason of Christmas helps to refocus and be reminded that GOD should be the highest priority in all things. If Jesus is my celebration and priority, then it is more important that I reflect His love, joy, and peace. Trusting God in all things will keep Him more at the center of my attention than if I’d tried on my own to accomplish the impossible. If any of your activities rob your daily devotion time, tempt you into anxiety or anger, or pull the heartbeat of your life away from Jesus, then it’s safe to say those things need to be quickly trimmed out of your life.

Barbra is an international certified holistic life coach. As a life coach, she shares prescriptions of the physical, emotional, and spiritual blockage that hinders the source of life which flows from the heartbeat of God. Barbra is an Award winning book author. Winner of Fresh Lifestyle Magazine 2017 BOOK AWARD and a PWN International Literacy Award, for her wonderful book, "Every Beat of My Heart".

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