Every morning since the beginning of December, the first question out of Faith’s mouth is, is it Christmas yet. Her excitement is palpable. This one day brings her so much joy. Over the years, Michelle and I tried to make it special for her. This is why she makes it her primary focus every day until the day finally arrives.
For me, at least this year, the opposite is true. I am not excited. This year will be the second year I will spend Christmas without Michelle. The first year, was rough. Michelle passed away six months before Christmas. Until then, we had spent almost a quarter century as a couple, enjoying each Christmas together. Michelle was good at making this holiday special for the whole family.
If that experience wasn’t enough to deal with, just a few days before Thanksgiving, I received a phone call letting me that a drunk driver had just killed my brother. Processing those experiences at the time had yet to take place, which meant I spent the first Christmas without Michelle in a daze.
This year the feelings of loss are felt more intensely. Things just aren’t the same. I miss her. She was the one who put the tree up the first day after Thanksgiving. She had the odd tradition of watching the Muppet Christmas Carols while she put up the tree. She handed this tradition off to Faith.
On Christmas Eve, we began the evening by eating a nice dinner together followed by the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible. We then ended the evening by opening up one present followed by watching a movie.
In the past, these traditions made me excited about Christmas too.
The last two weeks I have returned to some of my old habits of overeating and eating the wrong foods. I attempted to drown out the pain of the loss I feel so profoundly this year.
Now it’s time to recalibrate. I read a blog yesterday day that offered some sage words. In an article titled What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas, Nancy Guthrie explains why tears are not a problem, but often the solution.
For most of us, grief tends to work itself out in tears — tears that come out at times we don’t expect. Sometimes grieving people sense that people around them see their tears as a problem to be solved — that tears must mean they aren’t doing very well with their grief. But it makes sense that the great sorrow of losing someone we love would come out in tears. Tears are not the enemy. Tears do not reflect a lack of faith. Tears are a gift from God that helps to wash away the deep pain of loss.
It is a great gift to let grieving people know that they don’t have to be embarrassed by their tears around you — that they are welcome to cry with you. An even more excellent gift is to shed tears of your own over the loss of the person they love. Your tears reflect the worth of the person who died and assures them that they are not alone in missing that person.
Sage words indeed. I have resolved not to drown my feelings by grazing on delicacies, but stand in the presence of God and let the tears flow as I pour my heart out to my Heavenly Father, which is where real healing takes place.