Ho-Hum Holidays: Dealing with Loneliness and Grief

After my dad went on to Heaven in 2013, my siblings and I wrestled through our loss in various ways. For some of us, keeping everything else as “normal” and same as possible helped shrink the hole. But for my brother, starting a new tradition (even having our Christmas celebration in a different location–not at my parents’ house) would have been more helpful. Obviously, only you know you, but if you are facing a holiday season sans spouse, parent, or child, assess what this December should look like vs. other years. Perhaps you are one that needs a new backdrop and activity; perhaps you spend time reminiscing and reflecting. Whatever you do, attempt to focus on the beautiful.

Make a gratitude list of all that came from that season of life and all that will develop in the one to come. Treasure the people still around you.
Hold onto hope and ask the Lord for a new vision–His vision–over your future days, holiday and non.

If your situation seems desperately lonely, consider others that might be struggling with isolation this season as well. I understand the reservation here: after all, not everyone is wired to invite strangers into their homes, but consider what you could do for even 2 hours. Serve a meal at a homeless shelter? Take homemade cookies to a widow. Visit a nursing home and take Christmas coloring pages to share. If you play an instrument, bless someone with your music. If you can paint, send a small watercolor in the mail. Does a stay-at-home mom need a little break to shop or wrap presents? What about your neighbor? Consider the ways you can serve. Look through the Compassion Christmas Gift Catalog. Read the stories, recognize the desperation of some people on our planet, and give. Whatever you decide to do, give without expecting anything in return. Just give it up unto the Lord.

Before you think I’m heartless and this post is all about, “Get up and go doing something” I will encourage you with this: remember your heart. During the chaotic month of December, we’re inundated with parties, presentations, and plays and we can find our spirits barely catch up to our bodies. Don’t ignore or stuff the emotions you are wrestling with this year. Yes, do help, serve, and focus on thankfulness, but remember your frailty.

To pretend like we are okay and not allow ourselves to grieve or lament our situation mocks of human arrogance. “I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. It’s not about me.” Life is bigger than our circumstances, and yet, our God stoops down to scoop us up and hold us close to His heart. When our hearts ache with longing, He invites us to come and sit beside Him. He nurtures us at our deepest desperation–a need only He can fill. Take time to walk with Him, sit in a bath and listen to worship music, meditate on Scripture before bed.

When all feels hopeless, remember He is our Savior–our Forever Hope. With Him, we are fully exonerated and freed from an eternity of loneliness and loss.

 “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?” (Romans 8:31-38, Message)

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families,” (Psalm 68:5-6a, NIV)

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b, NIV)

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