“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,
It’s the Hap-happiest season of all…
Except….when it’s not.
In the days leading up to our first Christmas without our youngest child, sixteen-year-old Mark, Harry Connick Jr.’s merry lyrics sharply contrasted with the tears and unending ache in my chest accompanying me every minute of every day. Even the night of his death, Christmas was on our minds. On our way home from the hospital that hot July night, stunned to be leaving without our child, Chuck grabbed my hand and whispered, “Christmas, what will we do about Christmas?”
Over twenty years later, I experience joy in this “most wonderful time of the year” but not because it’s the hap-happiest season of all. Because it’s not. About two weeks before Thanksgiving I begin to feel disorganized, disconnected, and emotionally edgy. Anger and impatience vie for top billing in situations that don’t normally rattle me. And every year Chuck reminds me that my root problem is grief. I miss Mark. The freight train of sorrow still surprises me with its ferocity and power.
One reason the holiday season is so difficult for grieving Americans is because marketing gurus tap deep into our core need for community and family. Thanksgiving and Christmas are ready made opportunities for stirring up our God-given hunger for peace and whole families. The most effective ads are those that imply their product will produce healthy, conflict-free relationships. Divorce, broken relationships, childlessness, loss of a loved one, financial disaster, singleness, conflict-filled marriage—none of these fit the “hap-happiest time of the year” template. The ads only serve to magnify the holes in our own broken lives.
10 Tips for Christmas Grief Relief…