Why, Oh Why, is Christmas So Hard???

As another Christmas without Dominic rapidly approaches, I am pondering the question:  “Why, oh why, is Christmas so hard?” 

I think I’ve figured out at least a few reasons why.

For me, probably THE biggest reason Christmas is hard is because it throws off the routine I depend on to shepherd my heart through a day.  It’s easiest for me to manage when I have at least a couple of hours of quiet time each morning.  I need those silent moments to let my heart feel what it needs to feel, to cry if I must and to orient my thoughts after, once again, “remembering” that Dominic isn’t here.

Changing schedules and extra commitments mean that some nights I stay up later than usual and can’t manage to get out of bed in time to have those hours.  Extra people in the house mean that they may get up and join me in the living room.  While I love the company, I have to be honest and say I would love it more a little later in the day 🙂 ,

Another reason I struggle at Christmas is because all (almost all!) the family is together in one place.  This may sound odd to anyone who hasn’t buried a child, but when every single person I care most deeply for is together, it highlights the space where Dominic SHOULD be but ISN’T. 

Other times of the year we are more or less a full circle-as long as one or two others are missing, it kind of feels like maybe, just maybe, Dominic is away for awhile instead of away for the rest of my life.  But when we are all gathered round the table or the tree or the fireplace, it is oh, so obvious that he isn’t here.

ask me about the empty chair

Buying presents and filling stockings I go down the list.  I have to skip Dom because he won’t be here to open gifts or pull out his favorite candy from a Christmas sock.  I can’t even mail him a package where he is.  So I try to focus on the fact that his Christmas is the best one, because he is with the One Who IS Christmas.

But my heart still hurts, still yearns for one more hilarious morning when the camcorder won’t work or one of our sleepy young adults refuses to roll out of bed while the rest of us are waiting.

We are waiting now for a different kind of morning-one where the light dawns and never dims.

While I am in no way ashamed of the grief I carry-great love means great grief- I do try not to burden others with my tears at events or in places where smiles should rule.  The Christmas season multiplies those occasions and calls for so. much. energy.  just to maintain my “happy face” for the masses.  It’s exhausting in a way only other grievers can truly understand.  

straw that broke camel back

And, of course, we celebrate Christmas in the US during what my grandmother used to call “the dark of the year”.  Shorter days, longer nights means less time outside, less sunshine to generate the feel-good hormones I depend on to get me through each moment.  When the nights come early and linger long, my mind has more time to ruminate on what was and what will never be again.  

Finally, because Christmas is stressful for everyone for different reasons, people can just be a little harder to deal with-less flexible, more impatient, quicker to take offense or give it.  All that emotional drama can overwhelm my heart in a flash-leaving me speechless, crying and anxious.  It’s no one’s fault.  It just is what it is.

For all these reasons-and dozens more-Christmas is an especially difficult time of year for this hurting heart.

So I try to be gentle to myself and to extend the same grace to ME that I extend to others.

I remind my heart that it is perfectly OK to turn down invitations when I just. can’t. go.

I lean into the Promise born in the manger-Emmanuel, God with us-and hold on with both hands.  


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

7 thoughts on “Why, Oh Why, is Christmas So Hard???”

  1. Exactly! You are all so right with what you say!
    We only lost our darling son last year, and already have received Christmas cards with no mention of his name..SAY HIS NAME..he existed, he lives on with us now in our hearts forever ..even a simple word to say thinking of…or..remembering…but not a mention…please THINK before you act with our tender hearts. Please don’t hurt our hearts ..we haven’t forgot them..in fact NOT talking about them hurts us more ! Share the memories and love with us! We may cry, we may laugh but SAY THEIR NAMES. Please! We love our children..eternally x


  2. You hit the nail on the head once again Melanie. These are exactly the reasons why Christmas is so hard. I don’t like Christmas anymore but I do love Jesus even though I’m mad at Him. Thank you so much for all you do to help all of the broken hearted parents. God Bless You

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll lean on the truths you share here every Christmas, dear Melanie. My son died on the 19th of December, 5 years ago, a week after he and his dad bought our holiday tree, a family tradition he insisted on continuing into his 20’s. I hold on, but it is not easier. Jeff is always missing, especially now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Holidays are hard in general for me, but Christmas is the hardest, beginning the moment the first Christmas songs are played on the radio and the stores start stocking their shelves with Christmas merchandise. Several years back, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Christmas Hurts My Heart.” Even as I look for reasons to celebrate the season each year, Christmas still does hurt my heart, and I am particularly struggling this year for many reasons. It’s something not a lot of people would understand. As always, Melanie, thank you for your insightful and timely posts.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is my first Christmas without my beloved Garrett and I am numb. I drag my body around trying to function. Trying to be festive for my 2 grandsons who lost their daddy. He should be here with them because he loved Christmas and especially he loved his wife and boys. The days will come and go and come and go and come and go and I will still be numb without him. No matter what anyone else says or what they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful and written with words that hit right to my heart. Please keep telling and sharing your heart and your story. It’s a comfort to know we are not alone in our own thoughts and hopefully a teaching to those who haven’t lost a child. Ann

    Liked by 1 person

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