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Posts Tagged ‘Grief during the holidays’

 

If you’ve lost a loved one in the past three years, chances are on November 15th you’d like to have taken a sleeping bill that would last until January 5th of 2013.

Truth is, all of us live life from one holiday ‘til the next. February brings Valentines, then Easter is next in line, followed by Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, then the 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, birthdays and anniversaries are sandwiched in between these festivities—and they are all difficult days.

Then we begin again. Next year.

But if you’re agonizing over the death of a loved one, holiday celebrations are brutal reminders of who’s not there to celebrate with you. You’re sad and lonely. Very lonely.

This year was the fifteenth Thanksgiving without Mama, the thirteenth without Daddy, and the twelfth without our daughter, Michelle. And Monday, the one before Thanksgiving, I had a complete meltdown.

You’d think after all this time I’d be able to get through a holiday event with only a twinge of an emotional setback. But when I opened Mama’s silver chest to polish those family treasures that would grace our dinner table, memories of Thanksgivings past rushed down the corridors of my mind, ripped through my heart, and tumbled out in a river of debilitating tears.

I collapsed in the middle of the floor and gave myself permission to shed tears of love and loss that honor the lives of those who’ve gone home before me.

Tears of grief are liquid healing. Tears that, scripture tells us, God saves in a bottle. Tears necessary to move us through the grief process and into our new normal.

But what happens to those who refuse the opportunity to cry and grieve? Are they stronger? Are those of us who weep and grieve weak?

Absolutely not.

Family members grieve in different manners—each person’s grief is unique. And most every family who has lost a loved one has at least one member who refuses to do their grief work. They choose instead to bury their grief alive because they believe their sorrow is much worse than anyone else and much too difficult for them to bear. Problem is when grief is buried alive there will be a resurrection one day. Or perhaps on many days, year, after year, after year—most often during holidays.

Graves of buried grief incubate anger. Anger blossoms into bitterness. Bitterness transforms itself into rage. And that rage dresses and terrorizes, in many colors and forms—sullenness, rudeness, unexplained irritability, unreasonableness, inability to demonstrate love within the family unit, stubborn refusal to participate in and accept the joy and thankfulness of the season. These reactions can damage or ultimately bring death to living relationships with family members who are dealing with their grief.

These desperate souls have stumbled unknowingly into the quagmire of grief and will not or cannot escape the devastating consequences of their wrong choices.

They are stuck in grief.

Can we do anything to help these scalded, scarred folks?

 Love and prayer. Prayer, prayer and then more love and prayer. As long as there is breath, there is hope.

But we  can’t heal them, only God can—if they seek Him. However, we must not allow ourselves to become entangled or sucked into their web of chaos. And that’s where the line in the sand must be drawn and the remedy may result in the need to create distance or space between ourselves and the one stuck in grief.

Like any other behavior, becoming stuck in grief is habitual. And habits are hard to break. However, catering to bad behavior ensnares all involved in co-dependent relationships.

There are no time limitations on grief or healing. People have come to GriefShare after forty years of being stuck in grief. And when they do the grief work, God promised to heal them and to restore the years the locust have eaten.

As we enter the Christmas Season where does Christmas 2012 find you? Like me, pausing to remember and shed those treasured tears of grief? Or are you the one stuck in grief? Or perhaps you find yourself dreading the family gathering around the tree or table this Christmas, fearing the eruption that is sure to come.

Surviving the Holidays is a wonderful place to begin the necessary healing. Go to the GriefShare website www.GriefShare.org and click on the link to find a Surviving the Holidays event near you. Ask family members to attend with you. Work to keep lines of communication open within the family. Ask God to break down strongholds of anger that have caused family discord.

Every holiday becomes bitter-sweet a few years after loss. And it’s okay to cry,  to feel sad, and to remember.

But hold onto the truth that the day is coming when there will be no more tears, no more separation, and no more death. ‘Til then, I’ve wondered what sized bottle God used for my tears these fifteen years? My guess is a giant washtub. What size bottle will He need to hold your tears?

“Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book?” (Psalm 56:8 NKJ)

Ancient “tear bottles” were actually excavated by archaeologist in Israel. The vessels were used to catch and preserve the owner’s tears during their grief or difficult times.

If you need help dealing with your grief this Christmas Season, please feel free to respond to this blog. I have been  a GriefShare facilitator for the past nine years. There is help and hope available to you today.

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