Christmas colors are red and green. Tinsel shimmers. Lights twinkle. Hearts soar.
Sometimes, life paints Christmas a different color. There’s no Pantone color number, but the best way to describe it is Melancholy Blue.
I enjoy Christmas but also the holiday season carries a little different hue for me today. Both of my parents died around Christmas. My mother died three days after and my father died several years later four days before. It’s not that I am weepy at Christmas. Instead, the sense is more like the faint aroma of smoke after a distant fire. It’s there and doesn’t seem to go away.
Many people share that sense, especially those experiencing the first Christmas with loss.
The Problem of Christmas
The Christmas season is supposed to be happy. We sing songs. We open gifts. We share love.
For those who feel loss, something is missing. Where is the person I want to share this season? Their chair is empty. For some, compounding it is the guilt of “I wish I would have spent more time, cared more, said things. Guilt mingled with sadness makes for a bitter brew.
In the end, there is still that hole in life that no tree or colorful display can fill.
So how do you approach Christmas when it is painted blue?
Three Approaches To Christmas Sadness
Accept the feeling. The problem is our vocabulary. I should be happy. I ought to count my blessings. I must get over this. A lexicon cluttered with oughts, shoulds, and musts are toxic for dealing with emotions. It is what it is. Loss happened. Memories are real and, if recent, raw. Take time and acknowledge how you feel. Face the mirror of your soul and see the melancholy. It doesn’t mean you are wrong or immoral, only human.
Remember their current presence in your life. Too many times we focus on what we lost when someone died. The truth is we are left with much more complete lives because we had them. What was the best Christmas with the person you miss? What made you smile or laugh? If they were here, what would they say? People linger in our hearts because a gracious Father in heaven bestowed on us a memory. It is when we access our recollections that we counterbalance the loss. Something needs to fill the void. That “something” is what you remember.
Appreciate and live out the values they taught you—in this season and all year long. It is not only memories that help us, but their character and example. The person you miss the most taught you the best lessons you ever learned. Whether it be mother, father, brother, sister, son, or daughter, they shaped your life in significant ways. One of the things I still filter through my life is a question “what would my father want me to do?” The greatest tribute to someone is to practice the principles and precepts left as a spiritual inheritance.
Even with all that, it won’t change the color palette of loss. If you feel it, I pray for you. One other thing from a fellow struggler…you can make it through holidays and even feel joy.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas.