Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Celebrating Christmas After a Loss

What do you do when the world around you is busy celebrating, and you have a hard time feeling festive? That can happen when we lose a loved one during the holidays.

My dad, a victim of Alzheimers, developed a fatal infection two years ago and died three days after Christmas. Even though I'm enjoying the season this year, a part of me is experiencing a bit of melancholy as I prepare for the second anniversary of his passing.

Because I'm not alone in suffering some sadness each December, I wanted to touch on this less discussed aspect of the season. Loss is an inescapable part of life, and I believe it makes us stronger. We learn valuable lessons from it--how much others meant to us and how important it is to spend time with our loved ones.

We also learn that we're stronger than we think and that we can endure more than we thought possible. And we learn that the Lord is there for us to lean on. He knows our pain. As the shortest Bible verse says, "Jesus wept." We can, too, knowing He's there upholding us and empathizing with us.

As we move through and past the worst of the grief, we can take those lessons we've learned and put them to good use. We can more fully engage with those around us. We can come alongside those who are hurting as we've hurt. Those of us who are writers can pour the pain we've experienced into our stories.

In my second LIH, A Home of Her Own, coming in March, loss plays a major role. The hero's mother has cancer, as my beloved mother-in-law did. Because I've endured the pain that diagnosis causes, I was able to add realism and depth to the story. Even though I know what's coming, there are two scenes I can't read without weeping.

But have no fear. I also know what awaits a person who slogs through grief. Because of that, I was able to give James and Becky a very happy ending. =)

To those, like me, who have lost someone close to Christmas, I pray the Lord ministers to you as you do your best to do Christmas. May the memories of your loved ones bring you a measure of comfort in the midst of your grief.

On a lighter note, I received an early Christmas present. My author copies of A Home of Her Own have arrived!

 Do you enjoy reading stories that might
make you reach for a tissue a time or two?


  1. I lost a loved one in May 2013 but Christmas was still hard without him there. Mum helped us start new traditions like celebrating it early, this year we went out for dinner n the next day had christmas pudding. I find it hard reading or watching shows where a beloved characters dies or cancer is mentioned as its has been my reality. It is amazing though how ordinary stuff in life like going to work, living life n laughing at simple things can help you make it thru days n then months until its years.

  2. Lots of ghosts around the Christmas tree, but more good memories than anything else :)

  3. We lost my mother-in-law three years ago on December 20. Her birthday was on Christmas, so her memory is always with us.

  4. I understand, Keli. We lost my father on December 19th. It's been 13 years now, but in some ways the loss gets only greater.

    This year we're dealing with 2 life-threatening surgeries for our dog (along with a terminal diagnosis although he's only 7). I'd never had a pet (other than fish) before this dog, and I didn't realize just how much losing one can break your heart.

    Blessings and prayers for all who have lost loved ones and are struggling through this holy season.

  5. Scraparoni, I'm so sorry for your loss. Your mother's efforts to establish new traditions can be a big help. Just having a plan for getting through the many "firsts" can make them a little easier to endure.

  6. Pamela, since Christmas is a day many of us like to spend with those nearest and dearest to us, the absence of a loved one who's passed on can be difficult, but, as you said, there are many joys to be found.

  7. Merrillee, my heart aches to think of you losing your beloved mother-in-law so close to Christmas and having to mark her first birthday without her a mere five days later. I pray that as the years goes by and the grief isn't as fresh, you'll find comfort in celebrating her memory on her Christmas birthday, along with celebrating our Savior's birth.

  8. Cate, I'm sorry you lost your father. The pain of losing a parent is like no other. There is a timelessness to grief. A sight, a sound, a scent can trigger a memory, causing the pain to rush in, sometimes with the same intensity as it did in the early days.

    I'm sorry about your dog's diagnosis. A pet fills a special place in our hearts. Losing a pet leaves a gaping hole. Hugs to you as you deal with the pain of letting go.


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