My heart felt heavy while I addressed Christmas cards this morning. Names were removed from my own list due to death and divorce. I started to think about all my loved ones who have felt the sting of loss in 2017. For so many, the memories of this year will be tainted by loss. Loss of a parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend.
This is the first Christmas of a new chapter for so many people I know both directly and indirectly. Grief has entered our worlds. While the pain will dissipate with time, it will be present as long as we are alive. I went into my bathroom after I finished my task and dissolved into tears. Almost immediately, a Scripture came to mind: When my heart feels overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. God was with me in that moment, and His gentle reminder continues to stay with me.
“Overwhelmed” is translated a few other ways: faint (ESV), without strength (CSB), down to my last gasp (MSG) and weak (AMP). I love the rawness of these other translations. If you are grieving, you know exactly how all these interpretations feel. The Amplified version describes this verse as “a rock that is too high to reach without Your help.”
If your heart is hurting this Christmas season, try to do the following.
- Allow yourself time to be sad. It is okay to show your emotions. The first (and second, from what I hear) year is so difficult. The feelings are still so raw. Don’t fake happiness. Joy will come. It won’t be the same type of joy you experienced pre-loss, but it will come. If you have a loved one who is grieving, extend grace. Time will remove some of the sting, but the pain will always remain whether it’s been 3 months, years or decades.
- Give it to God. All of it: the anger, sadness, disappointment, and frustration. He knows your heart already. He is big enough to handle your emotions. Scripture tells us God bottles our tears (Psalm 56:8) and is near our broken hearts (Psalm 34:18).
- Praise Him. I know. It’s hard. Praising God when your heart hurts is no easy task. Focusing on the good doesn’t replace the bad, but it will remind you there is hope. It will help you remember the Light shines even in the dark. Some days, my gratitude list is a struggle to write not for lack of blessings, but lack of joy. Every time, I feel a little better for praising Him.
I am praying for you, those of you I know well and those of you who I don’t. It won’t be easy. It won’t be without tears. But God will see us through the first…and the second, and subsequent years to come. God is good even when the situation isn’t.
Blessings and prayers,
You can find some more encouragement for your grieving heart here.
This post also provides some encouragement. Both were written after the sudden loss of my mother in law.