By Kathryn Holl
It is okay to be sad when someone you love dies. This is especially true during the holidays when fresh memories arise, when tradition, fellowship, and love–all once delightful expectations of the season, now bring sadness to the surface.
If you feel overwhelmed, remember to be gentle with yourself and with others. Take time to reflect, to write, to walk, to heal, to pray. Share with those who understand, be it friends who have also had a loved one die or with a professional who is trained in grief counseling. Rituals are supportive to the healing process. They can be a simple and created in the home or at a meaningful location. Or it can be a community ritual where services of remembrance and honoring are offered.
Recently I met with Daniel on the subject of grief during the holidays and whether Grace would be holding a “Blue Christmas” service. He reminded me of the All Saints tea, a ritual to remember those who have died. I appreciated his thoughtfulness on the subject. Daniel acknowledged the compassion needed for those who are grieving a loss. Church, where so many sacred memories are created, can be a trigger for tears. “We put our lives in the context of worship and that includes our joys and our griefs,” he said, wisely. Together we live with all the fabric of our lives, tough stuff and the good stuff.
A dear friend of mine died one week ago after a short battle with cancer. Though we do not live in the same city we did keep in touch and have many mutual friends. I still find myself wrestling with the fact that he is no longer physically here. I can relate to the need to take time alone, to reflect, to write him a letter about how he imprinted on my life and to pray. I know the helpfulness of seeking out those who understand as I humbly accompany many who grieve on the daily journey of just getting by.
At Grace, the 6 pm Christmas service and the later services are more reflective. After the services, there is the offering of food and fellowship in the parish hall; no need to rush home alone. It is okay to be sad when someone you loves dies–bring tissues and join the community who holds together through “our joys and griefs.”