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What to do when you're too sad to celebrate Christmas -Part 3


What to do when you're too sad to celebrate Christmas -Part 3

Christa Hesselink


10 Reminders to Help us Cope this Christmas


Two days ago,  I shared my own story of why I find this season particularly difficult at times.  Yesterday I shared the first five reminders to cope well with this season. Here's the last five. Perhaps you can share this with someone who is having a difficult time with all-things-Christmas. 

6. Slow down.

The body naturally depresses itself when our soul knows it needs attention.  Experiencing all the feelings of grief is big stuff. It's like we have a whole other job we need to attend too.  Give yourself permission to slow the pace of your life down in order that you can do the "grief work" your soul is requiring of you.  This season will demand hurry and busyness of you, but this can be a recipe for unhealthy denial of the hard emotions. Try to embrace a slower pace.

7. Hold tight to, "This too shall pass".

Change is the most predictable thing there is. Chances are you're reading this because your world has been rocked this year (and not in a good way), or you're here this December longing for things to change.  

But here's what I've been learning: life is always changing.  If I'm in a beautiful season of life, it will not always be this way, and if I'm in a hard season, it will eventually change as well.

When we've lost something or someone significant, life will never be the same, but we will not always be in the pit.  Honestly - this darkness will not always feel so dark. If we keep walking through the night, we will eventually see the sliver of sun on the horizon.  Hold on!

8. Advent is about waiting for better things to come.

This is the season of Advent and it reminds me that waiting is a discipline that is good for my soul. Waiting gets us in touch with our longing for better things. So, in this season that feels so difficult to endure, remember this is a season about honouring the waiting we must do in this life. We wait with hope, because we are waiting for a promise that seems too good to be true, to actually come true. (Read here for another post I wrote on this idea.)

9. Messy truth vs. faking it makes life more rich.

When I was a kid, I adored the old fashioned, Norman Rockwell-esque pictures of Christmas. The horse and sleigh, the warm glow of candles in the window, the feast prepared, and the family gathered - it was perfection. 

I am still drawn to that perfect image - snow lightly falling, cocoa by the fire, and everything as it should be. 

All that is well and good, but experiencing loss at this time of year has a way of jolting us out of anything that resembles perfection.  Life feels raw.

But I believe that even in the rawness, we can experience the richness. A rich life is a life that honours what is true, even if it's hard.  A rich life is one that holds the tension of sadness & joy at the same time. 

For those of us living a messy, raw life this Christmas, we are not exempt from living life richly. We have important gifts to give and receive this season, and perhaps the most important one is to live truthfully and authentically, even when it hurts.

10. "Emmanuel" is not just a name.

When everything seems like it's unravelling, I try to remember the most important message of this season.  This is when we remember that The Divine, The Higher Power, The Source, did something that only God could do - and it was done out of love for you and me. God became human. The Hebrews called this baby "Emmanuel" literally meaning, "God - With - Us ". 

Consider the birth of Jesus as The Divine breaking into this broken planet and into our broken lives. Maybe you're skeptical about this story - that's' okay -  but maybe today you also feel desperate enough to consider that God has come to be with us in these dark places.

Breathe this in for a moment:

  • God is with us: GOD - who made it all, you and me and all created things because he loves.
  • God is with us: IS- not was, or will be... he is. Right now. Right here. Today.
  • God is with us: WITH - God is a companion, right alongside us on this journey.
  • God is with us: US - no one is excluded from having God come to be with them. No one.

Christmas is complicated by our grief and loss and longing, but it can also be the season where hope is ignited into the tiniest of sparks because we can put our faith in the promise that God is with us.


If you found this 3-part series helpful, I'd love your comments below. 

And please, share this with someone who is struggling this season.



Additional Resources: