The holidays can be a hard time for so many. When everyone is shouting, "Be thankful!" or "Be joyful!" or "Get in the Christmas spirit!" there are many who are just struggling to put on their socks.
The pain of grief can feel overwhelming at the holidays. How do you celebrate without this person when every holiday memory includes them? Sometimes, the pain is just too raw.
This year will be different for our family: my uncle passed away suddenly from cancer on November 1st. Ten days after discovering he had cancer for the third time, cancer took him. I grieve for my aunt, who is now a widow. I grieve for my cousins, who don't have their father anymore. I grieve for their children because they didn't get enough time to make memories with their grandfather. I'll miss seeing him at Thanksgiving, Diet Coke bottle in hand, pretzels stashed in the pocket of his Redskins hoodie, waiting for the Thanksgiving football game to come on while he played with his grandchildren.
The thing is, the holiday(s) will come and go, with or without us on board. What we do get to do is choose how we'll mark the holiday. It won't be the same as it was before, and it's okay.
It's okay to not do things the same way.
It's okay to do things differently.
It's okay to ask others for help.
It's okay to tell others you don't feel like you can celebrate the way you usually do.
It's okay to grieve.
Grief looks different for everyone, including members of the same family. Some may feel like celebrating and honoring the missing family member; others may not because it's too painful. It's okay. Remember to give grace to yourself and others as you mourn. Most importantly, stay connected, even if it's a text reaching out to tell someone you feel like you're drowning. Isolation is one of Satan's greatest tools to keep us hidden and overwhelmed by our feelings. If you don't feel like you can talk to friends or family, you might want to consider reaching out Focus on the Family's counseling hotline or locally to Safe Harbor Christian Counseling. It's okay to ask for help. Sometimes, validation of pain makes a difference.
If you're reading this and you know someone who has lost a loved one, reach out to tell them you're thinking about them. It makes a difference to know someone is thinking about you, doesn't it?
The holidays will look different, and it will be okay. Do what you can, give yourself grace, and even though we may not have met, know that I'm lifting up prayers for you.