Overcoming Holiday Blues: Finding Comfort in Faith Amidst Grief
Depression and the holiday season often go hand-in-hand, as these joyous occasions can serve as painful reminders of loss and grief. However, for those facing holiday blues, finding solace through faith can help provide a sense of comfort during these challenging times. By remembering that Jesus is always with us, we can discover joy even in the midst of grief.
For many years, the holidays were particularly difficult for me due to the loss of loved ones. The last time I saw my mom was on Thanksgiving in 1987, before she passed away from terminal cancer. The news of her passing came on January 3, 1988, leaving me devastated. With no service held in her honor, the holiday season became a reminder of her absence. Every year, on January 3, I would remember her and the pain would resurface. To cope with the grief, I turned to writing poetry, finding solace in the expressive power of words. One year, when the length of time since her passing equaled the time she had been in my life, I wrote a poem titled Twenty-Four Years to process my mourning.
Years later, the loss of my dad intensified the difficulty of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Combined with my preexisting struggle with depression, his death hit me hard. Despite attempting to put on a smile during family gatherings, my coping skills were insufficient. Over time, I have experienced the loss of all my aunts, uncles, two of my three sisters, several cousins, and even my favorite niece. The weight of grief sometimes feels overwhelming, threatening to overshadow any joy.
However, in moments of sorrow, remembering that Jesus empathizes with our grief and that He will never abandon us offers a glimmer of hope. This understanding doesn’t eradicate the pain completely, but it helps me find joy in the memories of those I’ve lost, taking solace in the knowledge that they are now free from suffering. Reflecting on Jesus’s actions at the death of Lazarus emphasizes His compassion for our sorrow.
In the biblical account, when Jesus saw Mary weeping over the loss of her brother Lazarus, He was deeply moved and troubled. When He witnessed the anguish of those mourning, Jesus wept alongside them. This poignant moment demonstrates His love and understanding for our own sorrow.
The holidays may also evoke memories of beloved pets that are no longer with us. For instance, my dog Roman brought so much joy to our Christmas celebrations with his playful antics. However, during his last Christmas, his vision had deteriorated, and he could no longer partake in his favorite game of chasing tissue paper balls. I felt a deep sadness in losing that spunky puppy he once was.
As I approach this year’s Thanksgiving and Christmas season, it will be the first without my dear dog Roman, who passed away in August. The holidays will undoubtedly feel different without him. Nonetheless, I am determined to hold onto cherished memories. This year, my cousin and son will be joining me for Thanksgiving, and I’m looking forward to adorning my home with the 19 nativity sets and 6 figurines I have collected, hanging 9 nativity ornaments on the tree, and assembling a new nativity-themed advent jigsaw puzzle. Despite the presence of grief and depression, I choose to focus on the blessings that remain.
When my sister Peggy passed away, I received a card with a powerful message: We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much the better for having had something so great to lose. This sentiment reminds me of the blessing I experienced in sharing my life with loved ones, including my dog. It encourages me to rejoice in the memories we created together.
If you find yourself facing the first of many holiday seasons without someone you love, you are not alone. Loss is an inevitable part of life. However, this life is not the end. Through Jesus, we find hope in the knowledge that we will be reunited with our loved ones again. We can take comfort in the fact that He is always beside us, providing solace even during our darkest times. Immanuel, which means God with us, perfectly encapsulates this reassuring thought. It serves as a reminder that, even amidst the hardships, Jesus is the source of merriment during Christmas and gratitude during Thanksgiving.