Grief and Holidays: How Can I Make It Through?

The calendar is tricky for grieving hearts.

It’s not just a way to plan events or remember doctor appointments.

It’s full of milestone dates and commitments that loom large and awful like an oncoming train in a dark tunnel.

Sometimes I just want to fall asleep sometime around the end of October and wake up in January after all the hoopla is over.  

But I can’t.

It’s not because I’m a Scrooge-I actually love making and giving gifts, I like baking cookies and breads, I enjoy cozy evenings with family in front of the fireplace.

What I don’t like is the busyness, the crowds, the push to be hap-hap-happy all the time and the crazy consumerism that crowds out the quiet peace of the promise of Light in the darkness.

I also struggle with meeting expectations-my own and those of others’-as well as enduring loud and slightly chaotic gatherings.

This will be the fifth set of holidays since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven and we have yet to settle on a pattern for how to approach them.  Each year has been different and each year has presented new challenges.

I think the two things I’ve learned so far are this:  (1) It’s OK to do things differently or to skip some things altogether; and (2) It’s important to communicate my needs and limitations to those around me.  

Timing matters too.

I need to prepare family and friends NOW for the changes coming to holiday plans.  

So for the next few days I’m going to repost some of the articles I’ve written about how to survive the holidays with a grieving heart.

They are not a “how-to” manual-just some observations and suggestions.

Take what is helpful and leave the rest.  

In the end, each heart needs to find its own path.  

I pray you find yours.  ❤

 

Repost: Trying to Hold Off the Holidays

Here they come round the bend like a pack of dogs chasing that rabbit on a racetrack.

No way to slow them down, no way to step to the side and ward off the relentless message that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming soon-so, so soon.

Stores scream, “You’ve got to buy it NOW!  You’re running out of time!”

Billboards, radio and television ads, and calendars count down the days.

Decorations assault my eyes and ears and nose (thank you pumpkin everything!).  I cannot get away.  There’s no where to hide

Read the rest here:  Trying to Hold off the Holidays

Free Seminar: Grief and Holidays

I’m hosting a seminar for bereaved moms October 18th.  I’ve got it set up as an event  on Facebook but I wanted to share it here to make sure no one misses out.  ❤

It’s not going to be anything fancy but I hope it will help some of us gird our loins for the last two months of the year that prove challenging to all of us whose child has run ahead to Heaven.

A precious friend who is an amazing baker and caterer will be furnishing the food.

I will be sharing from some things I’ve written in the past and some new things I’ve learned about this year.  

We’ll open things up so others who want to can share what has/hasn’t worked for them in the past and we’ll allow for questions and brainstorming.

So bring your appetite, bring a notebook and join us!

We *may* try to Facebook live my talk but don’t depend on that since internet connections out here in the woods aren’t always reliable or strong enough to stream anything.

It’s listed publicly as an event on my own Facebook page and on my public Heartache and Hope page so please go THERE  and RSVP if interested.

grief and the holidays broken bulb

Here are the important details:

Grief and Holidays Seminar and Supper for Bereaved Moms

Thursday, October 18

6:30-9:30 pm (don’t be thrown off by the length-we will stay and share up to that time, but if you need to leave sooner you certainly can)

Johntown Baptist Church

5201 Vance Road

West Blocton, AL 35184  (About 30/35 minutes from Tuscaloosa, AL and about 45-65 minutes from most Birmingham, AL locations)

There is plenty of space but we need a head count for food and handouts, so RSVP by Sunday, October 14th.

bereaved parents have one job during the holidays to survive

Repost: Faithful Waiting

I’ve been working on Christmas posts for weeks now and really thought I’d have something original and new for today.  But life has conspired against me and I find myself worn and fragile and oh, so very tired!

Then a thread on a bereaved parents’ page reminded me of Simeon.  And my heart knew that even though this post was written two years ago, it was precisely what I needed for THIS year, THIS Christmas.

I am clinging with both hands to the promises I can only see by faith:  That this pain will be redeemed, that every tear is captured and treasured by God Almighty and that every single stolen thing will be restored and renewed.

I will proclaim with Simeon that God is faithful and He cannot lie.

So I open my eyes on Christmas morning to a world where joy and sorrow live together for now but look forward to the morning when only JOY will reign.

I fell in love with Ron Dicianni’s painting,  “Simeon’s Moment” many years ago.  My husband bought and framed a print for me and I sit opposite it every morning as I drink my coffee.

It never fails to touch my heart.

Read the rest here:  Faithful Waiting

Remembering the Missing: Four Candles

I have always loved candles.  Something in the flickering light speaks to my heart.

It’s one of my favorite parts of early evenings-watching the candles I light on every flat surface cast a soft glow and chase the darkness.

Even a small light offers hope.  

Christmas Eve is a natural time to gather with family and friends, to honor the ones no longer present, to share our love, our memories and our sorrow.

So when I ran across this post on a Compassionate Friends site, I wanted to share it.  I hope it blesses your heart like it blesses mine.  

This four candle ritual is a beautiful way to create space for tears and also invite laughter and hope into hurting hearts.  

four candles

Repost: Not Giving Up-A Victory Worth Cheering

It’s hard to watch since winning a medal is off the table.  They lost their place in front when they took that awful tumble.

But we cheer them on-the limping athletes that manage to cross the finish line.

And we should.

Read the rest here:  Not Giving Up-A Victory Worth Cheering

What’s Your Legacy?

I can’t tell you how many people try to tell me what Dominic’s “legacy” is.  They extol his positive virtues and comment on how many lives he touched in his short 23 years.

They want me to be consoled with the intangible, relational, immeasurable impact of his life on the lives of others.

Yet they continue to live as if their OWN legacy will be determined by the amount of stuff they acquire or the size of their retirement accounts or the money they leave behind for others to spend.

It can’t be both.

If my son’s life is worth remembering just because of who he was, the people he loved and how he lived, then EVERYONE’S life is worth remembering for the very same things.

Christmas is the one time a year when far-flung family members are often gathered around the same table.  It’s an opportunity to make connections and build relationships.

So I ask myself, “Am I going to spend it talking about the weather and the news and other sundry things that won’t matter in a day, much less a year?”

family-reunion

OR, maybe I can choose to reach out, to ask deep questions, to make space for honest conversation and real sharing.

Maybe I can mend a broken relationship by offering a long-hoped-for apology, speaking aloud the offense and taking responsibility for the pain I’ve caused in the past.  

Perhaps I can proclaim a REAL blessing-not just the one we memorized from grade school-over the food and over the heads of the people gathering to eat it.

Why am I glad they are there?  TELL THEM!

Most of the presents under the tree will be consumed, broken, outgrown and tossed away one day.  But meaningful words spoken in love and kindness will live forever in a person’s heart.

We all leave something behind.  

We are all building a legacy.  

This Christmas I’m asking myself, “What’s mine?”

greatest gift is your time