pastoral/spiritual care

Holiday Blues or Bliss

The holidays bring a lot of things. The magic, delightful decorations, homemade pies, cakes with extra toppings -- and then the extra unwanted weight gain. Not to exclude annual family conversations,” the good, the bad and the ugly,” which always seems to last longer than heartburn. So when the holidays are here, what do you do when you have experienced a loss during the past year? When a family member is serving in our military, and will not be home for holidays? Or what will you do when you realize the chair once filled is now empty, where last year, dad, mom, sister, brother, child, or spouse sat and this year that loved one is not here and not coming home?

Grief now fills the chair and your heart.  The lights seem dimmer, tears replace laughter, boxes of decorations remain packed. A newborn nursery remains empty. One can wonder if constant sadness is normal, or “will I ever feel normal again?”  These emotional roller coasters are indeed normal. A traditional name is grieving.

I am so sorry you have experienced a loss and are feeling overwhelmed and maybe out of place while others around you are joyfully celebrating. You do not need to apologize nor do you need to feel obligated to participate as usual.  These are a few suggestions for you to take care of yourself this year.  Plan ahead; be prepared for unexpected grief attacks or detours. Change the routine; offer to bring dinner rolls instead of your famous casserole.  Purchase a special candle just for your loved one and light it when you think of them.  Shop less, and make a memorial charity contribution (a good tax write-off).  Keep things simple. Enjoy a good comedy and laugh out loud, even if it’s not that funny. Keep breathing; the tide will change.  Whatever way you choose to participate in the holidays to remember your loved ones, remember their laughter, smiles, stories, touch, the previous holidays they were with you. For new parents, when “hello means goodbye,” your pain is also very real; whisper a gentle lullaby.

During the holidays, and very special days, give yourself permission to cry, laugh, participate or just to be.

God of compassion, we seek your comfort when we cannot be comforted. We seek your wisdom when we do not understand. We seek your peace when we are restless. We seek your presence when we are lonely. Amen.

­-- Chaplain Lynn Brown Conklin


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