By: Jessica Larson
For the majority, the holiday season is a merry time of the year. The days and nights are filled with festive and joyful sights and sounds of celebration, surrounded by friends and family.
But, what if this year, you or your loved one is journeying the holidays amidst grief? How can we accompany or be accompanied through the season?
The Old Testament gives us a road map to consoling one another in the Book of Job.
“When three of Job’s friends heard of all the misfortune that had come upon him, they set out… to give him sympathy and comfort… they sat down upon the ground with him seven days and seven nights, but none of them spoke a word to him; for they saw how great was his suffering.” (Job 2:11-13)
There are times when no words can express the depth of emotions the mourning experience. There are no words that can relieve grief. During these times. We shouldn’t try to find the words, as hard as it can be, we should not attempt to “fix it.” Rather, it is more loving to simply sit with one another and listen. Allowing all the emotions to flow like a river. Encourage the mournful to name out loud each emotion as they are felt (mad, devastated, relieved, angry, overwhelmed, hopeful…) and acknowledge that all emotions are valid. Sit as long, or as often as the emotions need to surface and journey through the whole array that may arise. St. Paul tells us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
There is no correct way to go through the holidays amidst grief. Below are some suggestions, not rules.
- Surround yourself with people who care about you (family, school, work, neighborhood and church friends).
- Consider attending a grief program to find others who are going through similar experiences.
- Find a pace that feels right for you. The holidays may be celebrated with less fanfare than in years past. However, acknowledging their symbolism is still important. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for God’s grace and the people in our lives. Christmas is a reminder of our humble savior who came to live amongst us and bring salvation to the world.
- Consider starting a new tradition, like raising a toast to the departed or discussing favorite memories.
- Some of the greatest joys one can experience is giving back to others. Reflect on a gift your loved one would have enjoyed and give it to charity in their honor.