As the Christmas season approaches, not everyone is in a festive mood. Some are grieving the loss of a loved one, estranged children, a broken marriage, or simply the disappointments of life.
Grief isn’t something we sing about in Christmas carols or write on greeting cards, but the pain is real. And during the holidays, sadness can grip our emotions tighter than ever.
Ed, a North Carolina native, is no stranger to grief. After his wife Brenda died without warning, he was forced to walk through the stages of grief and face heart-wrenching celebrations of holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries each year. When overwhelming emotions engulfed him at such times, it was all he could do to keep his head above the water, trying just to “survive” the holidays without his wife.
“When my wife died, the shock knocked the wind out of me,” Ed admits. “I had to come to terms with the fact that my wife – who was perfectly healthy just days before – was gone forever.”
Special dates on the calendar were especially painful. “It was unbearable to celebrate our anniversary
just six days after she died, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s too.”
At times Ed desperately wondered, How can I go on?
Thankfully, this story doesn’t end with grief and gloom. God turned Ed’s grief into good! Now, 20 years later, he is happily remarried and heads up the pastoral care ministry in his church. One of his particular areas of focus is facilitating the GriefShare group.
“I have incredible compassion for those who are grieving, because I’ve experienced it firsthand,” Ed shares. “God has given me the opportunity to understand this great pain and yet see His faithfulness in restoring hope.”
Holiday Survival Tips
Ed offers some strategies that made a huge impact on how he “survived” the holidays after his wife’s passing:
1. Maintain the same traditions.
“After Brenda passed, I wanted to decorate our Christmas tree just like we used to do. So I bought all her favorite decorations, and my neighbor hung them with me. It was so comforting to keep our favorite traditions alive.”
2. Start new traditions.
“While the old traditions were comforting, I found that I also had to make new memories. About a year into my grief journey, I finally began to realize, ‘Brenda would want me to be happy. It’s okay to move on and make new memories, because she will always be a treasured part of my heart.’”
3. Be open to future possibilities.
“I was in such pain that I thought I could never love again. But God expanded my heart to deeply cherish Brenda and also fall in love with my new wife. When you are open to God’s possibilities, you begin to breathe new air and have renewed hope for your future.”
During the early stages of his grief journey, Ed frequently experienced the Lord’s comfort through the prayers of his friends.
“Without a doubt, love expressed through prayer has been paramount in my healing,” he recalls. “One friend would call me every day to pray and cry with me, and it made all the difference.”
Like Ed, you may be grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season. But you don’t have to go through this alone. Our prayer ministers are here for you, ready to express God’s love through prayer, Scripture, and encouragement.
Here’s how you can contact our International Prayer Center today:
+44 (0) 84 5683 0584