Monthly Archives: December 2013

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays

The holidays are often a huge challenge for those who have

lost loved ones during the year. Special times you have
shared with that person fill you with longing to have them
back with you. The holidays along with anniversaries and
birthdays are among the hardest and most painful times of
the year.

Perhaps you have lost a loved one; a parent, a child, a
spouse, a family member since that last special time.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions that might help you
get through this time of year with a little more grace and
happiness.

First of all, it’s natural to focus on our losses. But in
order to live each day to the fullest, we must learn to
focus on what we have instead of on what we don’t have.
This is very hard to do. But the Bible exhorts us to take
every thought captive. So when missing a loved one seems
overwhelming, pick up your Bible to read about any number
of universal situations, meditate on one of them, ask for God’s help and give
thanks. Placing your eyes upon Jesus, the author and
finisher of your faith is a very effective means of
focusing on what you do have rather than on what you don’t
have.

Second, (and I’m not putting these in any particular
order), remember the happy times with that person you miss.
Write it down. Remember the details and put them down on
paper. There is something therapeutic about writing. Then
share your thoughts and feelings with someone close to you
or in a blog or with another person who has also
experienced loss.

Third, reach out to someone else who may need help. If
you’re in a position to babysit for a stressed out friend
while they finish their Christmas shopping or go out on a
date with their spouse, offer your services. Or volunteer
at your local food pantry, crisis center, church or
favorite charity. These are ways you can help others and
in the process, help yourself.

Fourth, plan a special outing or trip that will take your
mind off of your loss. Is there some place you’ve always
wanted to go? This would be a good time to go. Or start a
new hobby? What have you always wanted to do and didn’t
have the time for? Take a class and get started now.

Fifth, change your traditions. Is there some particular
thing that makes you miss that loved one more than
anything else? Start a new tradition that includes other
loved ones so you aren’t so vividly reminded of the person
you have lost. Doing that is simply a way of redirecting
your energies and doesn’t mean you loved the person who is
gone any less.

Sixth, choose to be happy. We always have a choice. You
can choose to be a victim of your grief or you can choose
to respond to your circumstances with a spirit of
joyfulness. Which would you rather be, a prisoner to grief
or a sharer of joy? I know that I daily choose the latter.
I’m reminded of a story a good friend told at a recent
gathering. He had lost his wife to cancer and had
succombed to self pity and grief. He told of how he came
home from work one day so frustrated and unhappy that if
he had had a dog he would have kicked it. But he didn’t
have one. Then the Holy Spirit began to speak to him about
his choices. He decided that day to choose happiness and
gratefulness. Even though he made that choice, he still
has to make it every day until self pity is gone and
doesn’t return again. You can be happy in spite of your
loss. Choose happiness!

I’m sure there are many other things I could add to this
list, but the most important is that you need to focus
outwardly rather than inwardly in order to make it through the
holidays after a recent loss with grace and peace in your
heart.

May you experience the peace of God that passes all
understanding as you seek to honor and serve Him.

Blessings,
Sharon Reece

P.S. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one this
year or know someone else who has, our book may be
helpful. In it, we recount how God ministered hope and
peace to us when our 22 year old son disappeared on a hike
in Hawaii. You can get it by clicking the “order the book” tab at the top of this page.

 

Christmases Past

One of the gifts our son John left behind was a journal he started when he was a freshman in college. The first year he was there, we were still in the US and he was able to come home to Dallas for Christmas.

Here is an excerpt from his journal:

“Well, it is the day after Christmas and I am in Dallas…

Christmas was wonderful. We all had dinner over at Grandmom and Granddad’s, along with Karen and Jim. I got a good, big book backpack from Mom and Dad. Krista got a guitar from them and a good camera from Grandpa (or is it Grampa?)

On Friday and Saturday I worked my first official job ever. I demonstrated a digital camera at Best Buy. I hope I never have to do anything like that again. It was very boring, and I felt quite foolish, and I think it was a total waste of time. I would rather do something that appears to be useful and not just a waste of money for the employer.”

It was important to John to have close ties with family. As my daughter wrote recently in one of her blog posts, we were close as a family (and still are) because we only had each other. There was no option of other extended family members nearby.

That first Christmas after John started college was a significant one. He was experiencing many new things – travel home on his own from Chicago to Dallas – his first real job for an outside employer – reuniting with family for the first time since college started.

And our daughter Krista, was also home from her college in CA. So we were altogether again for the holidays.

During that trip home, we enjoyed many family traditions, baking cookies together, opening gifts on Christmas morning as a family, soaking in being together again, etc. And as an added gift to us, it snowed enough to go out and build a snowman. After many years in the tropics where the temperature is an average of 85 degrees and the humidity 85% year round, having enough snow to romp and play in was a real novelty, even though it had already snowed where John was going to school.

And even though John felt like his job of demo-ing the first digital cameras was a complete waste of someone’s money, he was there at the cutting edge of technology! If he could have looked ahead and seen what that technology was going to do to change our world, he might not have thought of it quite that way. It still seems strange that digital camera technology was introduced not that long ago. How far we’ve come since then!

Check this out for a little bit of digital camera history from the Canon Camera history museum:

Canon Digital camera in 1996

Thinking back on that Christmas, I’m so grateful for those memories. Other Christmases fade in my memory, but not that one. Thank you, John, for recording it.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear about your Christmas memories too.

Sharon Reece

P.S. Many people have lost a loved one since last Christmas. A gift of our book could really encourage and help them. Please consider giving a gift of comfort and spiritual help to someone you know. Click the button on the top of the page and it will take you to the order page. Thanks!