A First Time: Finding comfort when we grieve.

At the store today, I was overwhelmed by frenzied shoppers racing their carts down the aisle while screaming children begged for everything within arms reach. I found an empty aisle to escape in and took a deep, cleansing breath seeking a moment of serenity. It was only a moment….until a cart came around the corner. It was an older woman, petite in stature, dressed in a Christmas vest with a turtleneck underneath that was sprinkled with candy canes. In her cart was one can of pumpkin pie mix. I noticed her demeanor was a bit blue as she leaned against her cart for support. Her small weathered hands did not have a ring on any finger as she gripped the cart bar and pushed her way passed me. Our eyes met for a moment, and I smiled and said, “Merry Christmas”. She responded, “I wish that were true. It will be my first Christmas without my husband.”

We all have the first times in life that etch memories of joy, pain, or loss to recall in our hearts. Christmas brings a lot of firsts to many of us, such as babies’ first Christmas. A newly married couple hanging their first ornament on the tree. The first Christmas in a new home. There is also a first time that leaves the heart longing to be comforted. The widow grieving her first Christmas without her husband. The parents who have an empty nest as all the children spend Christmas with their new families. A young man in a new town away from home for the first time. A recently divorced mom or dad spending their first Christmas without their children. A family gathered around the table, missing their loved one that had passed on.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Grieving can make those around us uncomfortable because the cliche phrases of comfort just don’t seem adequate to offer relief. Friends sometimes don’t know what to do with our pain. Loved ones struggle to provide what is needed to soothe the wounds of loss.

Yet grief, as painful a season as it is, is a necessary part of our healing. To run from grief is to run from the very thing that can quell the pain of our loss. Our grief has a purpose if we come to God and use Bible verses and prayer for healing. Grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness. Grief is a wound that takes time to find its space of acceptance, comfort, and serenity that is individually unique. It is different for every person and yet fully known by your humble, compassionate, and caring Heavenly Father.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Even if you feel alone, God is with you always. In the moments you may not think he’s near, he’s still watching over you. God will never abandon us during our times of grief. Instead, he will always provide us with love and hope.

Things to remember:

  • Your God-given human right is to feel all those messy, painful emotions. Jesus is not intimidated by any of your feelings, even anger. He is a safe person to release them to and find comfort in.
  • Grief does not have a cut-off date. You may experience many good days, weeks, months even, and then something triggers a wave of sadness that reminds you of your loss. Jesus is right there with you.
  • It is okay to feel happy, experience joy, and do fun things while grieving. God’s design brings balance to our emotions, rest to our souls, and hope for the future.
  • Wanting to be alone is okay. Those private moments to grieve, release our pain, cry out to God, and seek His comfort are vital to our souls.
  • Isolating for long periods is not healthy. We can quickly get stuck in our misery, become depressed, lose hope, and not care for our personal hygiene or home environment. Accept the help of others and seek out trusted friends to encourage you.
  • Allow others to do it for you when you don’t feel like doing it yourself. God provides through others.

Though this Christmas season may be difficult, God embraces you through His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter our condition, culture, religion, age, gender, or differences, God gave ALL of us His greatest gift in our Savior, Jesus. We did nothing whatsoever to merit or deserve His gift. That is the amazing truth of Christmas. Despite who we are, God sent His Son so “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). In heaven, we will feel no pain, no sorrow, and there will be no death. Our grief will disappear, and we will only feel God’s unending love (Revelation 21:4).