Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. As the song goes, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year“. But Christmas can be a time of loss – where people face the reality of what they do not have – or have any more. Losing a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or even a loss of income or health, can be another reminder of what someone no longer has.
If we aren’t careful, the joy of Christmas is covered over with the emotions of loss, and rather than appreciating what we have or looking forward to what’s to come, we find ourselves in Christmas misery.
Several years ago, I consulted two professional Christian counselors in our church. With the help of Jennifer Degler and Elizabeth Ellis I put together some practical ways to deal with a sense of Christmas loss and shared them in a sermon.
Ideally, Christ is the answer. Apart from Christ there is no Christmas peace. These suggestions are not designed to take the place of truth, but to give some practical tips to help you deal with loss at Christmas.
10 ways to deal with the emotions of Christmas loss:
List your losses.
Death, divorce, injury, finances, children moved out this year – whatever they are – write them down. I’ve personally found journaling to be helpful. It can be therapeutic to admit where you are hurting.
Share your pain with others.
Certainly you should share with God, but maybe also with a close friend or with people who have experience dealing with your specific loss. Don’t be ashamed to see a professional counselor. We were designed for community, especially for times like this.
Grieve the loss.
Every loss must be grieved. The intensity of the grief may be determined by the intensity of the loss. Some people falsely believe they can just pick up the pieces and move on without really grieving. It’s okay to be human. (I share some tips on grieving HERE.)
Resist falling into a sense of total despair.
This is where you live in a false reality that all hope is gone. It’s not. By the way, you don’t do that by ignoring the hurts.
Take care of yourself physically.
Eat well, exercise, and get adequate rest. It is more important during a sense of loss.
Be aware of negative thinking.
Catch negative thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are positive and true. See Philippians 4:8.
Do something for someone else.
There are many opportunities during the holidays to help people. Helping other people reminds us loss is universal and other people are struggling with you. Plus, something about giving fuels positive emotions.
Force yourself to participate in social activities.
Obviously, that is more difficult in 2020 – and you may not even feel like it. But social support is critical in recovering from loss. No one benefits by becoming a recluse. Be safe and wise, but find ways to interact with others. Even a phone call to a friend is better than falling further into despair.
Avoid the comparison game.
Don’t compare your losses to other people’s losses. Significant loss naturally makes us focus inward, but that never works. And it’s dangerous.
Honor your losses with new traditions.
Begin new rituals that will help you reflect on the good things you experienced prior to your loss or will help you remember happier days to come.
In my Christmas message, I shared one more suggestion –
I believe this might be the most powerful of all.
We have to learn to worship in tears.
We must learn to worship even in pain. Many Psalms were written during someone’s painful story. When we realize God is good – even when it doesn’t seem that life is good – we are better equipped to face uncertainty and loss.
Obviously, Christ is the peace of Christmas, and He can fill your brokenness. You can trust Him. This Christmas, let the Christ of Christmas fill the void and loss you have in your heart and life.