This time of year can be so hard for families.
Even when we know that death is not the end and the heaven awaits us, it is the waiting without the ones we love that is so hard. My mother died in 1991 and I still miss her.
But never more than during the holidays
For those of you that have lost a loved one this year, I am so sorry for your loss and the painful times you have already had and will continue to have as the days move forward.
May the memories of you loved one sustain you, the love of your friends and family surround you, the prayers of the Mother of Jesus uphold you, and the power of the triune God heal you of your pain.
For those who lost a loved one in the past years I pray that as time has passed that the pain has lessened. Even if the pain is not as acute, the loss and the missing are often ever-present.
For some, there is guilt for not missing this person “enough.” I have gone days, weeks and months without thinking of my mom and sometimes I feel guilty about this, but think that this is a sign of healing. I am not avoiding thoughts of mom, I love her and miss her like always, but thankfully the pain and ever-present feeling of loss has faded and I take this as a grace from God.
For those of you not mourning the loss of a loved one, I encourage you to reach out to your family and friends who have and let them know you are thinking and praying for them this holiday season.
Listen to them, really listen, no need to tell them “it will be all right” or that their loved one “is in a better place” or that “everything happens for a reason.” Even if all of these things are true, when you are hurting these things do not ease the pain. What helps is asking them to tell stories about the person and listening to these stories.
Do things for them. Often we say, “If you need anything, just let me know.” That is nice, but it is really hard to ask for help when we are hurting. Instead, think of what you might like in a similar situation and just do that thing. Cook a meal and bring it over. If it looks like their yard needs mowing, mow it. If you are going to spend the day running errands, invite them along. They have errands to do too, and could probably use the company.
Send them flowers (or chocolate); who doesn’t like to get gifts? This idea is especially helpful if you do not live near them.
Sit with them. Sometimes all we need to do is hang out with them, especially if they live alone. Join them for a Netflix binge or a walk in the park or a game of cards. In truth it is not all that important what you do to comfort those in sorrow; all that matters is that you be present in whatever way you can.
After it had been a few years since my mom died, a friend’s mother passed away and she asked me: “How long does it hurt.” I so wish I had had a good answer for her. The truth is that it is different for everyone. Be honest with yourself and hurt as much as you need to, cry as much as you need to, pray as much (or as little) as you need to. Get mad at God, God can handle your pain. In fact a full 1/3 of the Psalms are psalms of lament and there is a whole book of the bible called Lamentations, so God is familiar with people crying out to him in pain.
For me, what I cling to most is the hope that I will be reunited with my mom, all my grand parents, all my miscarried children, Monika’s father and grand parents and other relatives that I have yet to meet. In heaven Monika will meet my mom for the first time and we will see our children for the first time. Hope is a powerful thing and I cling to it.
Psalm 30:6 says: At dusk weeping comes for the night; but at dawn there is rejoicing.
Some times the night is long… hold on, the dawn will come, really it will.