The Holidays and Grief

Grief and the Holidays

“For everything there is a season…a time to grieve and a time to dance.”  Ecclesiastes 3.

There is a time for everything. Every culture has appropriate times to express both grief and joy. But what if you find yourself in the embrace of grief during what’s meant to be a festive season? How do allow yourself to feel pain when it seems everyone else is decking the halls? Is there room for sorrow at the Christmas table?

There is a way to grieve during the festive seasons. #grief #holidays Click To Tweet

Anyone who has experienced loss knows what it’s like to go through the holidays with sadness. When my mother passed away, we had only 2 months until we were meant to go through our first holidays without her. How would we survive? She was Christmas. She embodied the joy of the season (and not just during December). She had a basement that existed almost entirely for the purpose of storing her forests of garland and mountains of crimson bulbs. She had earrings and clothes dedicated purely to the holidays. She lived for Christmas cards and Christmas songs and Christmas goodies.  She carried our traditions in her very being. How would we find joy in this season when our lives were wrecked with sorrow?

Shortly after her death, I remember reading a pearl of wisdom that I have held onto since. The author shared that life is permanently altered for the one who has experienced loss. There will now forever be an element of grief to every moment of joy. That is normal and to be expected.

For the one who has lost, every moment of joy has an element of grief. #grief #holidays Click To Tweet

It sounds a little morbid, but I have found that to be ever so true in my own life. It doesn’t mean that I can not be happy because all is tainted, rather that now in every significant moment I experience on this earth, there will be a reminder of the loss because my mother is not here to share it with me.

My daughter was born a month after my mother’s passing. My seasons of grief and joy were intertwined. I could not separate the two. I still cannot. Every time the seasons change, every time my son learns to write a new letter, every time my daughter discovers a new way to be sassy, in those moments of joy, now there is always pain. They are the thorned rose. In someways, the loss even makes those moments sweeter.

It’s okay to be sad even in the midst of happiness. If we allow ourselves to walk through these moments of grief, they will pass. We will once again find ourselves able to celebrate in even greater form, and to do so in honor of those that are gone.

During this coming holiday season, it may be the passing of a loved one,  a divorce, or a strained relationship that pierces your heart at a time when the whole world is meant to be happy. But on this side of heaven, it simply cannot be escaped.

Even at the original Christmas, there was room for sorrow.  A baby born to the world whose birth was overshadowed by death. A great light sent to save all men from sin who would one day be crucified to accomplish that very purpose. Even in the gifts of the 3 wise kings, myrrh was found: the ancient spice used for burial.

He was a child destined to die, whose joy was not in this present world but in that to come. And a Father in Heaven, initiating the birth of His own Son, knowing that nothing but death could bring all of His children back to Him again.

There is room in this Nativity for grief.

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  • Erica December 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Brooke! Thank you for writing this. It is clear that you have been able to get some unique perspective as you’ve walked through this difficult season. There is also a sense of joy and appreciation of life, despite the sorrow. That gives me hope!

    I was thinking of you the other day when I looked at my Christmas decorations. You inspired me to start collecting decorations from the different places that I travel to.

    • Brooke December 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks, Erica! There definitely is a silver lining. 🙂 And I love that tradition of collecting ornaments wherever you go! We just put ours on the tree too and remembered where we got each of them!

  • Ishi December 10, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    awesome article!

    • Brooke December 10, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Thanks for reading, Ishi!

  • Jamie Lapp December 12, 2015 at 3:52 am

    You write beautifully Brooke, thanks for sharing! I remember your mother as a joyful woman! You are precious, sweet friend! Merry Christmas to your family!

    • Brooke December 12, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Thanks, Jamie! She always loved having “the girls” over. Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas!

  • Lindy April 20, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I am just getting started in my grief journey after losing my 31year old son in February. It will soon be his 32nd birthday and it will be sad for my family. Thank you for your article.

    • Brooke Grangard April 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

      I am so sorry to hear that, so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a child. Heart-breaking. Grace and comfort to you as you walk through that day without him. I wish you didn’t have to.


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