As the holiday classic by Meredith Wilson merrily observes, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!” Houses twinkle with thousands of lights and through windows you can see the glow of Christmas trees. Cheery holiday tunes are playing nearly everywhere you go. Shops are filled with holiday shoppers and Christmas cards arrive daily from friends and family near and far. Even the more reverent countdown of Advent barely conceals the energy and joy of the holiday season.
In the midst of all the cheer, however, you might feel as though you are simply drifting along, caught up in the currents of your grief as you mourn the absence of the loved one who is not tangibly present for these celebrations this Christmas.
When we have lost someone we love, special celebrations, especially holidays, can be painful reminders of the loss that we feel. We can find comfort, however, in the traditions that are so much a part of the celebration of the birth of Christ. Reflecting on the meaning of the season and its many symbols and rituals can make the hectic holidays a time for reflection and peace. More than this, revisiting beloved traditions gives us the opportunity to remember the gift that our loved one was for us.
Although you may feel overwhelmed as the holidays approach, hold on to hope as you face this season. Honor Advent, don’t feel pressured to celebrate in ways that are not true to what you are feeling, and know that the pain and hurt you feel now do not mean that this season has to be without meaning for you.
Our holiday traditions, if we allow ourselves to be mindful of what they truly represent, can foster within us the faith and hope to understand that Christmas is a time of promise and renewal. As the Advent darkness gives way to the new dawn of Christmas morning, our grief can give way to a sense of gratitude for the gift that your loved one continues to be for you.
Believe in the hope and peace of Christmas.
Excerpt from “Finding Comfort for Your Grief in Christmas Traditions” from CareNotes.