“Firsts” can be hard when you’re dealing with loss and grief, especially during the holidays. Your first Christmas may be the hardest in your time of grieving. While everyone around you is celebrating, you may feel overwhelmed with loss.
And it is definitely acceptable to take your time in your grieving and healing process. Just look at Will in "Moonrise," who is still trying to cope and heal from his wife's tragic death two years later. We meet Will at Christmastime, when family gatherings and being with loved ones are more pertinent. The first holiday without a loved one can definitely be the hardest. Grieving loved ones can definitely be more of a hardship during the holidays.
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In your sadness, it can be tempting to avoid people and ignore the holidays, but Christmas is more than parties and sparkling lights. It’s the message of hope to a people in despair. It’s the very nearness of God to you and me, come to earth in the humble form of a child -- our beloved Saviour, Jesus!
If you’re dealing with grief during the holidays, here’s some Christmas hope. These Bible verses and practical tips will help you maneuver the holiday while you cope with a loss.
LEan into The Real Meaning Of Christmas
Look closer at this Bible verse about Jesus’ birth:
'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means, ‘God with us.’)”– Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
God with us. God with you. The baby in the manger is your reminder that God is near to you in your time of grief and loss. You are not alone. If you’ve lost someone you love this year, embrace this comfort.
In "Moonrise," Will isolates himself from his family during his time grieving his late wife. It's at Christmastime that we encounter Will's grief during the film. If Will could only see the truth in this Bible verse about Jesus' birth, he may have been able to lean into God's presence during his grieving.
Let This Year Be Different
Don’t feel pressured to “do Christmas” like nothing has changed. For Isaiah 40:1 (NIV) says:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
This Bible verse about grieving tell us that God will comfort you in your pain and loss. Especially during your first holiday after loss, it's natural to need to take more time to process and accept that things are not the same.
But, at the same time, don’t ignore the holiday to avoid the pain of loss and grief. Instead, find small manageable ways to bring Christmas into your home. Maybe you’ll skip the tree this year, but consider setting out your favorite Christmas decorations as comforting reminders of God’s nearness and presence.
Surround Yourself With The Right People
It's easy to want to extract yourself from all family and community interaction the holidays bring when grieving a loved one. But let's remember this Bible verse about community in this time:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. -- 1 John 1:7 (NIV)
Finding the right community, who understand the pain of loss you're going through, who will respect your space while also supporting and being there with you is important, especially during your first holiday after a loss.
Will in "Moonrise" is surrounded not only surrounded by his three children who love him very much and try as much as possible to help him heal, but also his in-laws who help raising his children as well as give him parental advice and guidance. Will is surrounded by family who loves him and cares so much to help him heal and process his grief.
Choose Your Activities Wisely
Allow yourself time to be alone, to contemplate and heal, without neglecting the warm friendship of others. Find the balance. And if you do stay at home, consider healthy ways to spend your evening. Turn on soft Christmas lights and create an atmosphere of hope. The important thing is to celebrate the season in your own way, while keeping in focus the reason for the season. Zechariah 9:9 (NIV) reminds us:
Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Let's remember that no matter how we celebrate this season, and whatever activies we choose to celebrate with, that we keep Jesus' birth at the heart of our focus.
Here’s an uplifting Christmas movie to watch on those nights at home. “Angels Sing,” starring Harry Connick Jr. tells the story of a father who is still dealing with the loss of his brother. When another tragedy strikes, he has to help his son begin to heal.
Take Time to Process Your Feelings
Sometimes we can feel guilty if we’re having fun without our loved one. Remind yourself that it’s okay to step away from your sadness. They would want you to live life and enjoy it from the other side of this world. We're reminded that God is with us in the healing process and its emotional ebb and flow in Psalm 34:18 (NIV):
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Will in "Moonrise" drifts away from his faith while grieving his late wife. We see him try to process his feelings and understand how God is asking him to move forward through his family, especially with his children, in the hobbies that give him life and new experiences. But we're made aware it isn't until at least two years later that Will is even able to begin these steps to move forward from grieivng his loved one.
Take Time To Rest
Don’t be surprised at low strength levels. The grieving process can be draining, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Rest when you need to and don’t be afraid to opt-out of things. Your strength will return. It’s interesting to read how hope plays a part in regaining strength.
“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
Charley in the Pure Flix Original series, "Going Home," knows exactly how draining the grieivng process can be. As a hospice nurse, it's her job to make people's grieving process easier, including taking care of the loved ones of those in hospice in addition to her sick hospice patients. Her help keeps their strength up so that they can be present to their sick loved ones. Charley is well-versed in knowing and understanding the grieving process, especially for the first holiday after a loved one has passed.
Build In A Memory
Don’t feel like you have to tuck away all the precious memories of your loved one. Hang that special ornament you bought on your last vacation together or make their favorite dish to share with your family. Although you can’t dwell in the past, it’s healthy to remember the good times.
In "Moonrise," Will wrestles with the decision to sell his late wife's horse. His daughter, Piper, wishes to keep the horse and learn to ride the horse, who is known for its stubborness. Will doesn't want to see Piper on his late wife's horse because of his own guilt he feels contributed to his wife's accident. But we see him able to get past these painful memories in order to be reminded lovingly of his wife when seeing Piper work with her horse.
Embrace Moments Of Joy
Don’t be surprised if you forget your loss for a moment and actually enjoy the holiday season. It’s a good sign that healing is happening. At the same time, don’t be surprised or embarrassed if the floodgates open. Excuse yourself if you need to and allow yourself time to weep. People will understand. It will get easier.
Matthew 5:4 (NIV) says:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
While coping with loss, especially during the first holiday after the loss of a loved one, you may feel guilty for surrounding yourself with your family and being able to catch a glimpse of happiness here or there. Don't be! God is with us in every moment! He wants to bring us a smile even when we are in mourning. Allow it to happen, mark it as a positive step in the right direction and don't make yourself feel guilt over it.
Christmas can be hard if you’re dealing with loss and grief, but God offers comfort in the midst of your sadness. Remember the hope of Christmas. Remember that God is with you.
For inspiration and encouragement for coping with loss, especially during your first holiday after a loss, watch the Pure Flix Exclusive movie "Moonrise", "Angels Sing" or the Pure Flix Original series "Going Home." All are great options to see healing in action -- and how God be present in our grieving process!
For more Christmas healing, miracles and family, celebrate the holiday season with Pure Flix! With over 190 movies to inspire and encourage the whole family this season, you’ll experience the difference that positive entertainment can have. Celebrate Christmas with Pure Flix!