Holidays are meant to be fun and festive, a season to look forward to, to laugh and to celebrate, yet for those grappling with grief, the season can be an overwhelming reminder of loss. Grief, stemming from various sources such as job loss, the end of a marriage or relationship, or the passing of a loved one, can cast a shadow on the festive spirit.
Grief takes on various forms and affects individuals differently. Having experienced seasons of deep grief myself, I understand the inclination to withdraw from festivities. There were times when I preferred to stay alone, wishing away the year as I grappled with profound losses. It might be the complete opposite for others, wanting to party the sorrow away. In writing this, my heart resonates with empathy for those trying to navigate the pain.
Perhaps someone is reading this who separated from their spouse this past year, and this will be the first Christmas where you will have to split the kids, which means some days you might end up alone with your thoughts.
I think of someone who broke up from a long-term relationship, and the breakup has shattered their self-esteem as they begin to feel like they are not worthy of love. Wondering if they will ever find love again.
I think of the ladies in the baby loss support group I started who had mentally planned to celebrate the holiday with their growing babies but instead are filled with pain and agony.
I think of the lady battling with infertility who thought that this would be the year that she would conceive.
I think of those who lost one or both of their parents within a short period.
I think of the person who got a negative medical report and is not sure how their health is going to progress.
I think of the person who has lost a source of revenue, be it a job or their business, and sits at night worried about finances and debt.
Someone else may be feeling stuck, feeling like they are not where they thought they would be by now.
Nothing I say can make the pain go away, but allow me to share a few insights that have helped me navigate through my own grief.
A quote that I have made my own for every end of the year is one by John Piper that says,
“Occasionally weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.”
Weep and acknowledge the pain
Give yourself permission to mourn, recognizing that it’s okay not to be okay. The world may encourage you to smile and be strong, but allowing yourself time to grieve is a vital step toward healing. Acknowledge the hurt instead of minimising it or ignoring it like the pain does not exist. If you can, see a professional counselor, talk to someone who allows you to be vulnerable and talk to God.
Wash your face and trust God for the New Year
After the tears have been shed and the pain acknowledged, get back up again, wash your face and trust God. Drawing inspiration from the biblical account of David, who wept over his losses but eventually found strength, we learn the importance of honest emotional expression and getting back up again amid grief. After weeping until he had no strength left, he found solace and strength in the Lord.
“When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.”
1st Samuel 30:3-6 NIV
I pray that God will wrap you with His love and give you extra strength during the holidays. Despite the shadows, may His light of hope guide us, and may the coming year bring healing, strength, and opportunities for new beginnings. In the words of Psalms 23, may God’s comforting presence lead us through the valleys to green pastures.
What's Your Reaction?
Mercy is a wife and mommy of 3: one amazing boy here and two boys in heaven. If not writing or playing with her son Manuel, you'll find her wherever people are: talking, encouraging, sharing a meal and having a good laugh! She is a media professional and counselling psychologist who seamlessly combines her passion for communication and her desire to encourage people. Through her writing, she aims to share her faith, wisdom and insights gained from her diverse background and lived experience offering readers a fresh perspective on healing. She is the author of the book “Hope for a Grieving Heart” and leads support groups for women who are going through child loss. Join her on her mission to inspire and uplift through her words. Her Social Media handles are @mercysmiley on Instagram and Mercy Chege Omari on Facebook.