Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
I remember our first Thanksgiving after Richard passed away. We drove to Arkansas to be with family and when the time came to join hands for prayer over the meal it was awkward because there was a vacancy, a void in our family and empty chair at the table.
I tried to keep things as normal and as routine for the kids and I as possible. But the reality was, it was far from normal, we were not the same. Our loss was huge!
Thanksgiving 2010 marked 5 1/2 months since we had been with Richard. In some regards, 5 1/2 months seemed like such a short time yet at the same time it seemed like an eternity. How does that even make sense? Grief is crazy like that.
Our families were gracious in trying to continue traditions of gathering around the table and enjoying a full spread of ham, turkey and dressing but something, someone was still missing.
How on earth do you get through? Is it even possible to survive?
I will say, getting through is sometimes just that… Nothing outlandish just merely surviving. Sometimes you just need to survive. You may be saying something like, if I can just get through or survive this year I’ll be good. Can I encourage you? “Good” is overrated when you’re grieving. If you don’t feel “good” just know your normal. If you feel “good” just know your normal. Grief is crazy like that.
But, it’s the holiday season. A season of thanksgiving. A season to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We should be cheerful. Not necessarily. Maybe another year, but it doesn’t have to be now. I give you permission to grieve.
It’s been 6 1/2 years now since Richard went home to be with the Lord. Since that time, I’m not sure if there has been a single year the same. Seasons change. But our loved ones will never be forgotten.
One year, I didn’t even put up a tree or decorate for Christmas. At first, I stressed, oh no, I have to put up a tree. It won’t be Christmas otherwise. I had to get over myself and give myself permission to be okay with it. Of course, I’m hoping that this isn’t the one year my kids remember (unless it’s one with laughter…) remember the year you were a “scrooge” and didn’t put up a tree or decorations? 😃 Maybe they will…. Maybe they won’t…. but we survived… we got through.
This year as you celebrate Christmas, remember the good times. Remember when….
You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who have never grieved and they don’t understand, be gracious.
You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who have grieved differently than you and they don’t understand, be gracious.
You may be spending holidays with family and/or friends who let you be you, be grateful.
I wish I could give you some magic tip on how to survive the holidays but I really believe it’s unique to each of us. Because we’re uniquely created by a unique God. He, who sent His Son, Jesus so that we have a reason to celebrate Christmas.
As you gather around the table this Christmas, as you look upon the vacant chair where your loved one once sat, be grateful that you experienced love.
In the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.”
From our family to yours, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas!
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