night, I dreamed that God resurrected my beautiful adopted aunt, Mary
Jo Hoffman. But morning renewed my mourning for her: Christmas trees,
snow globes, and music greeted my grieving heart. Relate?
previous years, my maternal grandpa (a.k.a. "Papa Ray") died near
Thanksgiving and my adopted "Grandpa Morley" died near Christmas. Now,
people cannot compare grief. But I believe we all know that the
holidays challenge the grieving.
Christmas arrives like a pretty
package full of grief triggers: Empty chairs, missing faces, and silent
voices seem to haunt the holidays. Here are "12 Ways of Christmas" for
the Grief-Stricken that have worked for me:
12 Ways of Christmas for the Grieving
1. Don't put excessive expectations on yourself. Don't expect the holidays to be the same.
2. Rest. Cut down the Christmas clutter and just get away from the typical, if possible.
3. Rearrange furniture to reduce "absence" reminders.
4. Avoid sugar highs and lows because they naturally induce emotional lows.
Also steer clear of over-eating and under-sleeping. Eat well-balanced
diets. Some mood enhancing natural foods include yogurt, kefir, green
tea, omega-3 rich foods (i.e. salmon, cod liver oil, etc.), and lower
sugar dark chocolate. One excellent resource for healthier lifestyles
is First Place 4 Health, founded by the knowledgeable and kind Carole
5. Admit grief. Trying
to move forward while denying the reality of grief causes one to fall
face forward. Does your face smile while your heart weeps? Give
yourself permission to cry. Jesus wept. Weeping releases excessive
tension. Address depression. Don't deny it. Pretending the nonexistence
of depression only promotes its growth. (I include a list of counseling
centers on my page for hurting hearts: http://prayingpals.org/linksforhurtinghearts.html.)
6. Forgive and receive forgiveness through Jesus.
Release everything to the Lord -including any so-called regrets about
your departed loved one. In Loved by Rebecca St. James (FaithWords,
2009), the point of God's abiding love encourages us: "He [Jesus] is
ready to…stand in the gap between you and the pain, and to be your
constant companion in the dark hours. He loves you."
7. Reach out to the more burdened and hang around kids this Christmas.
It may not feel easy. It may even feel impossible. Ask Jesus to love
thru you and get your eyes off problems and on to Him and others.
8. Understand the concept of new normalcy. The
onset of new traditions and expectations may seem daunting, but God
gave you your previous normal. Ask Him to give grace/hope in the face
of the new normal. Let Him lead you to a place where you can relax and
let Him beam His light on you.
9. Take a "hands off and hands folded" approach to the holidays.
Reduce activity and increase connectivity through prayer and Christian
companionship. If you're isolated, feel free to join my weekly online
prayer group (www.prayingpals.org). And stay in touch with your local church.
10. Face and treat chronic health issues. If you feel sick, everything feels worse. (One excellent resource for those with chronic health conditions is Rest Ministries.)
11. Reclaim your Heavenly purpose on earth.
Ask Jesus to grant supernaturally His grace, hope, love, peace, and
comfort this holiday season. Then don't fight His help. Be open to His
opening of doors to cope and hope this holiday season. Just receive
Jesus. Ask Jesus to give you a Heavenly perspective on earth. God holds
good things for you! He grants you great purpose for your life
hereafter…and here, too. Embrace His grace and seek His face. He's
there. I know. In the face of grief, I'm with Him right now.
12. Remember: Trials don't indicate a reduction in God's love for you.
He loves you and promises to make things right in the end. Spend time
focusing on His unchanging love for you. "For I am sure that neither
death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all
creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ
Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, ESV)
Holidays include lots of
grief for relationships/loved ones that left, forsook, or died. But
let's focus on the essence of Christmas: the present of Jesus' presence
in our lives! Wow, may a relationship with Jesus be our miracle and
encouragement this Christmas! "Thanks be to God for his indescribable
gift!" (2 Cor. 9:15)
Could you think of anything greater than receiving God for Christmas?
my dream didn't come true today, I know it will: Mary Jo will be
resurrected and we will be reunited. This year, focus on a different
angle of Christmas: Let Christmas remind you of Jesus' birth to banish
Stacie Ruth met Jesus, her life blossomed with true joy and purpose!
Life's blows hurt her, but Jesus heals and strengthens her. Now an
author, actress, and recording artist, she laughs at the irony and
praises God, who uses unlikely people…like herself. To find out more
about her ministry visit www.brightlightministries.com.
three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year's Day. All
you need to do to have a chance of winning is leave a comment here.
Come back on New Year's Day to see if you won!
12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info