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Now That They’re Gone

Christmas will not be the same

“Cast down, but not destroyed.” Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church ring in our ears, but distress or despair wait to overtake us. Our family member has gone home to be with the Lord. It was just yesterday and now its holiday time — Christmas will not be the same. Fear pushes toward panic, we don’t want to face our surviving family or friends; but then, we must.

Our ability to contain our tears is limited, “O what if I just burst and make a scene and spoil everybody’s holiday with my doom-reminding loss?” “It’s been 6 months now; people might think I am okay, or ready to move on.”  “I’m not.” “I’m still hurting too much; I have hoped to die myself.” “I need true friends around me, but, it seems safer to withdraw.” “After all, I am a Christian – I should be allowing God to comfort me Himself.”

My life-drive went away

“By the way, where is the reassurance, where is God?” “My sorrows have moved Him far from me. I think I resent Him, I think I am mad at Him.” “I try to sin-not in anger, did it turn inward?” “My life-drive went away; I am careless about what happens. Without vision I perish, but I can’t seem to muster up any bother.”

Floating Debris

Friends, the Holidays can be rough. O, pray for friends and family who have lost someone dear. Could be they are worse off than they appear. They smile but cry inwardly, they have a calm face, but hide a torrent. They have not yet located God, discovered His presence, found His comfort. Most supporters have left off praying for these by now. They languish without hope – floating debris in a flood drain.

Life is no bed of carnations

How do we help? Cast down, perplexed, persecuted, troubled –- these words describe feelings which may be weathered-through by most in the narrow ways of life. Unfortunately, these are normal. Life is no bed of carnations. Sin and its dominating principle has guaranteed that. Nevertheless, distressed, destroyed, forsaken and despaired are the “deep-ends” – words that warn of areas we dare not adventure.

Kids gloves on

Simply and sacredly, precious ones; don’t add to the distress. Don’t exasperate the basic pain; don’t aggravate an already unpleasant situation. Don’t let any others more-muddle the perplexing time, either. Kids gloves on, we love with few words. Putting ourselves in the other’s place, we advocate with empathy. These folks call for our burden-bearing, not our wisdom yet.

Innocent love

A poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning finishes with these lines; “…but loves me for love’s sake, that evermore Thou mayst love on, through loves eternity.” Our sullen friends so crave the quality of love, God’s. “Just love me, don’t tell me how to do it better.” Love never fails and in purity its desired effects are brought into being. Innocent love touches a broken heart. Trust it; though it births itself in our diminishing possessions, it is enough. Anything added to it is excess.

Practicalities?

— Perhaps we go to the event with our family, but bow out early.

Maybe we share our state of mind in a simple letter to family and friends, beforehand Click To Tweet

A little effort can prepare others for us; a little planning can help avoid the bad experience of spontaneous reactions. Generally, those who haven’t experienced grieving don’t know what to say to you. You can help these to better know your condition.

Forethought

If tears come, they are not to our shame. Don’t fear this. Some families prepare to include the lost loved one in the celebration. Possibly they become the guest of honor, or their memory the theme of the day. Forethought can think-through what parts of our Christmas celebration we wish to hold on to; perhaps we cannot let go of much yet. Contrarily, some aspects may no longer be appropriate. Creative fore-thought can change a sorrowful time to one of honor and precious remembrance.

Our Loved One

Lastly, of course our loved one will be missing. Nothing can fill this void. This is the grief, the sorrow.

“Death is a cloud – immense, a clap of sound. Love is little and not loud. It nests within each cell, and it cannot be split. It is a ray, a seed, a note, a word, a secret motion of our air and blood. It is not alien—it is near –our very skin, a sheath to keep us pure of fear.   (excerpt from “The Shape of Youth”) May Swenson

Love never fails.

Tom Sliva

Tom Sliva

Born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, Pastor Sliva went to Bible college in Massachusetts at the Stevens School of the Bible in !982. He and his family moved to Baltimore in1987 to be a part of Greater Grace World Outreach. From there, he served in Prescott, Arizona, and Indianapolis, Ind. Ordained upon his return to Baltimore in 1995, Pastor Sliva was afflicted with brain cysts in the late 90's and stayed at home base until his recovery in 2002. He then assisted with ministries in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before resettling in Baltimore due to his son's sudden illness and death. Pastor Sliva is a colon cancer survivor. He has been part of the Pastoral Care Team since 2008 and leads the Grief Share group at Greater Grace Church. Read more from Pastor Sliva on his blog Healing at the Cross.
Tom Sliva

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