Grief in and amongst the holidays is one of the hardest things I have had to navigate. I am a wife and a mother to five children, 11 and under. Learning to keep my children’s world as normal as possible, tend to daily responsibilities, be a wife, and all the while acknowledging my own feelings, was a bit of a juggling act. Throw in the holidays and it’s enough to make you feel like you are drowning, barely able to keep your head above water. And some days that’s exactly how I felt.
I am closing in on one year since my world was knocked off its axis. Towards the end of October of 2021, we received heart-breaking news that my dad was not eligible for a kidney and liver transplant due to several medical co-morbidities. His organs were failing, and we were out of options. A rapid decline in my dad’s overall well-being and health took place through the holidays. Three weeks after learning about my dad’s transplant denial, my 36-year-old sister went to the hospital for what we thought was a pulled muscle in her back. It was discovered that she was facing a stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis. Oddly enough that was on Pancreatic Cancer Day (November 17). Two devastating blows right as we were entering the season of Thankfulness and Joy. Learning to find my footing on this unchartered ground was difficult.
All of what I have learned along this journey I am on is from Christ and Christ alone. I’m so thankful for all that He has taught me and continues to teach me. If it weren’t for Him, I would have crumbled and broken. Here are four things I have had to consistently be intentional about all the while continuing to go about life whether it be day to day things or through the holidays.
Cry out honestly and humbly to God. God can take it. Be honest with all your feelings. He already knows them.
- Psalm 22 specifically jumped out at me regarding David’s suffering and crying out to God in desperation asking God where He is. David was begging Him to see him through his trial.
- Jesus cried out to God in despair on the cross. How comforting to know we can too.
- In addition to being honest and grieving with the Lord, I encourage you to be honest with your spouse & your close friends. They will meet you where you’re at and be sensitive to your needs. I’m so thankful for my husband and my girlfriends who prayed with me in my moments of weariness and spoke truth over me and encouraged me.
- I was honest about my sadness with my children as well. They are so perceptive and would offer comfort and hugs.
- I grieved and coped with worship music. The worship song, “Son of Suffering” met me right where I was.
The word that was on the forefront of my mind about last year was Grace. Grace. Grace. I was in survival mode and was just trying to get through each day. I could not volunteer. I could not go all out with all the holiday activities. And I had to learn to give myself grace. I felt like I was a sinking ship and needed to get rid of any excess weight to keep me from going under, and there was grace for that.
If you are newly grieving & processing:
- This will most likely not be the holiday of all the extras and that is ok.
- You will not be able to be everything to everyone and that is ok.
- Pick a few things to do with your family and commit to it to help keep a level of normalcy
- Fall back on the simple things in life like movie nights with kids’ choice on treats. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Bake cookies. Play Christmas music in your home.
The verb gaze means to look steadily and intently, especially in admiration, surprise, or thought.
Fix your gaze on Christ.
I have learned to not look farther than what the Lord has given me in this moment, in this day. I’ve read the Lord’s Prayer many times but to read it through a grieving lens was so different & comforting for me. The verse “Give us this day our daily bread,” specifically, leapt out at me. That’s exactly what He promises.
- He will give exactly what we need to endure the very trial we’re in.
- He will light our path one day at a time.
- He will guide us and go before us. When I start looking too far down the path, I begin to feel complete and utter hopelessness, despair, the hows? & the what ifs? come to mind. I’m essentially mimicking Peter and I sink when I do this. Fear, frustrations, & worry keep my eyes off Christ, and I’m left swallowed up by the pain. He has taught me and continues to teach me to focus on Him and He faithfully gives me exactly what I need. He will never leave or forsake me.
I picture the cows grazing slowly in the fields. That’s what we need to do,
Graze on His word daily, digest it, take it in and let it nourish our bodies. It’s so good for our souls.
I’m about to complete my third consecutive year of reading the Bible in a year. Each year something different has spoken to me. The theme for 2021 that was alarmingly clear, I AM WITH YOU. DO NOT BE AFRAID. Over and over this stood out most amongst all the text. Little did I know how much I’d be leaning on that very truth as 2021 ended.
- Learn His voice through reading the Bible.
- Meditate on scripture.
- Declare his truth over your grief daily.
- Remember, He will never leave or forsake us.
- Deuteronomy 31:8 ~ “The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed “
- Isaiah 45:2 ~ “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth, I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.”
- Exodus 13:21~ “The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night”
- Deuteronomy 1:33~ “Who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.”
- Joshua 1:9 ~ “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
It is here where He has met me & is helping me heal. Endurance and strength are birthed as we persevere through our grief.
And because of that and all that He has shown me, I have the utmost gratitude and love for Jesus Christ, my Savior.