Christmas isn’t very merry for everybody, and the holidays aren't always happy. This isn't the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you deal with loss or death at the holidays. I know, because I experienced it last year. I’ve actually experienced it three times, with my grandmother, Rick’s grandmother, and Chloe last year. The anniversary of Chloe and Nana’s deaths are in the same week: Chloe died on December 2, 2017, and my maternal grandmother died on December 6, 1987. And Rick’s grandmother died a week before Christmas in 2000. The ghost of Christmas pasts aren’t always kind to me.
December is the worst time to experience loss, because nobody cares. They’re too busy working overtime to have the “perfect Christmas.” They want to be happy and have parties and celebrations, and can’t be bothered with your problems. In fact, often grieving people are actively avoided, because nobody wants you “dragging them down.” People are brutal, especially when it comes to protecting their Norman Rockwell image of Christmas. I can say for a fact that Rick and his family got a lot more sympathy and support when his father passed in August 2014 (during the summer) than we got when my grandmother passed. I don’t remember anybody coming over or doing anything after the funeral was checked off their “to do” list. It was a void, filled with tons of red poinsettias that people sent to “do their duty.” It’s been 31 years and I still hate red poinsettias.
But isn’t this what Christmas is really about? That Christ’s birth brought hope to this world not only for salvation and eternal life, but for comfort and His everlasting presence when life hurts? He came not just to save our souls, but to be a companion to us on our life journey. Those painful times are why He’s here: not for trees and parties and presents and songs; but for comfort in tears and grief and hurt and pain. I can tell you this for a fact: I felt Christ’s presence in my life more last year while grieving for Chloe than I have over any other Christmas in my life. I hurt, but I also felt comfort from the rock I was rooted in. Maybe peace on earth didn’t happen for me, but I saw the other side of the coin, and it’s a valuable lesson that I’ve continued to learn from over the past year. May all who grieve or hurt feel that presence and comfort not only during the holidays, but always. Christ didn’t come for us to decorate and party. He came to help us through this crazy thing called life, and life is full of experiences, both good and bad. It hurts, but He heals. He restores and sets us to new life, whether it’s picking up the pieces and starting over from today’s tragedy, or life beyond this world. He is life. And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
This isn’t a “shame on you” blog, but rather one to raise awareness. Don’t be afraid to be there for those who hurt this holiday season. Don’t worry, bad luck isn’t contagious. Actually, Christians really shouldn’t believe in luck at all, because everything either is or isn’t God’s will, so you can’t “catch” death, or anything else (sorry, that goes for the good stuff too). So get in the ugly stuff, and don’t be afraid of the hurt. The Lord could be using you to comfort somebody else that needs a strong presence in this time.
And if you’re one who is grieving this holiday season, you have my love, prayers and sympathy. I also encourage you in this: remember the true reason of the season, root yourself in Christ, and keep the faith. I’m still standing. Experience your grief honestly, and you will find strength and beautiful new life on the other side of this shattering experience in time.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.