Christmas! Tinsel, snow, twinkling lights and family gatherings… sigh, for some, this is the saddest time of year. I watch it approach with a buffet of emotions. It’s been twelve Christmases since I hugged my then twelve year old son in front of a decorated pine tree. Each year I’m better at making Christmas an easier on my heart experience than the year before.
Let me share with you what I’ve learned.
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?” — Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931)
No one is exempt from grief. Everyone suffers loss. We can roll in the black mud and allow the pain, for it is hungry and relentless and demands its time. Or, we can fight the memories, the tears, the gut twisting hurt. But it’s a losing battle. We are hunted when we run, and no joy finds its way into the “cup.”
“To spare oneself from grief at all cost can be achieved only at the price of total detachment, which excludes the ability to experience happiness” — Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
The grief that comes from losing a loved one is terrifying. The hours between night-fall and dawn are endless. Grief has a voracious appetite. Drugs, alcohol, long work hours and meaningless relationship trysts will never satisfy grief.
“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” — Jan Glidwell
Grief sharpens its teeth on your insides. Your one life is beautiful and precious. Don’t live with your emotions locked up in an airtight box. Joy is to grief as day is to night. You don’t have one without the other.
“Grief is a process, not a state”– Anne Grant (1755-1838)
Your memories are your link with your lost loved one. Don’t despair at how much it hurts to see the bitter sweet pictures play across the screen in your mind. This deep sadness will not last forever.
“He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it”. — Turkish Proverb
Grief is messy, tangled, confusing and horrifying, but it is so very necessary.
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them”. — Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Rejoice in your pain! You loved with your whole heart, without bounds, and with an eye to eternity! Let the “cup” be scraped deeper by your grief, your tears, your long nights of dark suffering.
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains”. –Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Trust the pain will soften and the cup will fill with a calm and enduring love.
This Christmas I wish for you hope in a future with ease from the sadness you suffer.