Attending a funeral last week, just one of three in a recent series of events, my heart goes out to these families who are grieving these losses during what has now become a very painful time of year…the holidays. I know that it’s not just these holidays that will be difficult, but rough moments are ahead for many years to come. Perhaps more so now than in years past, I am aware of just how much this festive time of year filled with parties, food, cards of the year’s good news and new additions, traveling, family and tradition can turn into pin pricks of pain, aching, and loneliness when loss is involved.
I am not trying to rain on anyone’s festivities or set a depressive mood, but I do believe it’s only fair to give recognition to those who are struggling to get through this time of year. Holidays can magnify the loneliness. The holidays can carry a weight that we sometimes can feel unable to bear. When you can’t join in on the fun it’s almost easier to remove yourself from any inkling of joy than to pretend things are okay or feel like you’re wrecking someone else’s moments of celebration.
And when you are in celebration, it’s too easy to be unaware of someone else’s absence or reason for not wholeheartedly participating in the cheerful spirit. We can’t blame those in the hustle and bustle because we need reasons to smile and celebrate and gather the troops, but sometimes it’s a little hard not to resent them. And with true losses and genuine pain that we know we cannot fix for someone, it’s difficult to know what to do for them, or what to say, or how to enter into their world…so we just don’t.
There is no how-to of how to operate in these kind of moments. There is no fix, solution, or magic bullet to these unavoidable and uncomfortable occasions. These are experiences that whether it’s recognized or not, we will all go through at some time in our lives in one degree or another. Sometimes we don’t know what it’s like to have a Shepherd until you get guided through the darkness. But being aware of someone’s situation sometimes goes a long, long way.
So for all those who are battling sadness, loneliness, depression and the weight of the holidays, or maybe even just an overall sense of “not this year” or “this isn’t it”…you are not alone. I am thinking and praying for those who need an extra dose of love this time of year. Whether you know it or not or even feel it or not, you are loved.