To define grief simply, I would say grief is a season of sadness. For a more in-depth definition, I’d say grief is a season of sadness brought on through a major life change, a change that might even be catastrophic. As we enter the holiday season, the intensity of grief is often dependent upon the primary catalyst for your grief. A simple reminder is not to compare your pain. Your pain is your pain. No matter the root cause of your grief, it is absolutely ok and necessary to grieve.
That is the heart of the first lesson I’m learning through my own personal grief. I know some of you will be walking through the depth and darkness of great grief. I’ll be celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas season for the first time without my parents. I know it may not compare to the grief of the first holiday, or any holiday for that matter, without one of your children. Nonetheless, it is my grief, and I am giving myself permission to grieve. Over the next few weeks, I want to encourage you through your own grief.
There are times in the pain of grief it feels as if God is distant and doesn’t care. However, I know He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). I know I can cast my cares upon Him because He does care about me (1 Peter 5:7). It feels as if I am alone in the silence and solitude of my depressed soul. But I know God is faithful and will never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).
My parents loved the holidays. Some of my most precious and earliest memories revolve around the joy and happiness of gathering during the holidays. The Thanksgiving my family were the only Houston Oilers football fans during the annual Dallas Cowboy game. Somehow Houston won, and my family celebrated in a sea of silver and blue. The numerous Christmases in Plainview, we had to wait on my cousin and uncle to arrive before opening gifts. The year my boys were seated on the fireplace with their cousins wearing their brand-new John Elway jersey, a gift from my dad. Memories are sweet and never die. One of the first ways to battle grief is to remember. Don’t be afraid to talk about the person or people who are not there. Laugh, cry, and remember. Allow the deep seeds of grief to come to the surface.
In a few hours, I’ll pack in the car with part of my family and travel to Texas to be with all my children and grandchildren. Those who know me know how much I love the holidays. But there is a part of me dreading spending this first holiday without my parents. My dad passed away four years ago, and my mom only a couple months ago. I feel the freshness of the wound of grief. But I will rejoice in my family. I will remember the joy of past holidays and cling to our future reunion.
I know many of you have much greater pains of grief than I do, and I want to be praying for you. If you want me to pray specifically for you during this holiday season and beyond, just drop me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d be honored to pray for you and would covet your prayers for me as well. I know God is good and faithful. I will trust in Him and press deeply into His comfort and care for me. Keep following the blog this season, and I’ll update with other ideas to help in your grief during the holidays. For now, remember them, laugh at the memories, cry with the pain, and trust in the goodness of God. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.