7 Survival Tips When the Holidays Are Hard
Grief and good cheer do not mix well. Family gatherings abound during the Christmas season and longing for a loved one can become incapacitating. This guest post from Sharon Engram and Lori Rohlinger includes 7 survival tips to hold onto hope when the holidays are hard. A dynamic mother/daughter duo, they cowrote Surviving Widowhood: 40 Devotions of Hope and we will be giving away a copy!
To enter to win a copy of their new book text GRIEF to 33777
Hope for the Holiday
With songs on our radios and in stores talking about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, a few of our favorite things and that cutie, Santa Baby, Christmas can seem like a magical, festive time filled with love, laughter and joy. But for some of us, Christmas time is hard, filled with bittersweet memories and we can almost feel the dread of the holiday season pressing in on us. Perhaps you have just walked through a year of loss; a divorce, loss of your job, a major move across the country, a friendship deteriorating, or a loss of a loved one. If this season is hard for you, you are not alone.
Using an acrostic from the word Holiday, we find seven practical ways to help us get through the Holiday with Hope.
H – Have Time To Care For Yourself
Give yourself permission to pamper you! Do you enjoy a relaxing massage? Schedule one. Do you enjoy a day by yourself to take a long walk, read a book or maybe a day cocooned in your bedroom? Schedule it. Whatever brings enjoyment to you, schedule it on your calendar. There is something about scheduling an activity to look forward to, putting it on your calendar, that is beneficial in helping to pull you through the Holidays. The area where I live has a beautiful Botanical Gardens, and it is scheduled on my calendar as my day to enjoy!
O – Observe Your Self Talk
Words matter! How we talk to ourselves make a big difference in coping with the Holidays. So, if you say, “I hate the Holidays, they just suck, it leaves no room for something else. We don’t have to say, “I love the Holidays”, but a way to soften our self talk is to say, “the holidays are difficult for me as I tend to find them lonely. I have found when I am feeling overcome with sadness, to say some “I am” statements, such as I am loved by God, I am blessed, I am strong, I am choosing to walk by faith, I am grateful. Also, shifting the pain of grief to thankfulness helps my self talk. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always: pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. There is power in thankfulness.
L – Let Go Of Expectations
Do whatever feels right to you this season. If you’ve been invited to a gathering or party that you know will stir up painful emotions, the word “NO” is okay to use. Give yourself grace as you let go of expectations. It’s ok to put boundaries around yourself and your family (and you can even say no to family expectations if you need to!)
I – Invest In Preparation
Holidays turn up the volume of grief, so I have found it is good to think ahead. Christmas is such a sensory holiday of sights, sounds, smells, music, and memories. Listen to your feelings and give yourself permission to flex. There will be changes and things will look and feel different. Pray! Let God help you. He may have a big surprise for you, as He did for me, when He filled my home with unexpected joy during our first Christmas without our loved one. Philippians 4:13 is a favorite verse, “I can do all things (Seasons) through Him who strengthens me.”
D – Don’t Be A Grinch
Oh, it is so tempting to want to be that green monster that lashes out at everyone and everything when we are in pain! Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we are stealing the joy of Christmas from the people around us with our misery. Try having the perspective of thankfulness and choosing joy during this season. Focus your attention on the good that’s still in your life and not on what you’ve lost.
A – Allow Others In
When we feel sad and lonely, we tend to isolate. The more we isolate, the worse we feel and the worse we feel, the more we isolate. Have you found this true? I like what someone said, “Don’t burrito in your blanket and check out this holiday season.” It is proven by research you won’t feel better when you isolate. Let a friend know you are needing a little extra support. Reach out and encourage someone you know who is going through a hard holiday. Doing something kind, good, intentionally for someone else, helps the mood of the doer! You may ask, “can life be good again? Life never looks the same again, but it can be good again. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the broken hearted.” Lean into Jesus and the strength and peace He will give you.
Y – You’re Not Alone
Memories stir up powerful longings in us at the Holidays. Sometimes you think you are the only one struggling, dreading the Holidays, because yours doesn’t look like the pictures you see on social media. We promise you; you are not alone. There are many hurting this season and what a better way to enjoy the holiday than to be sensitive to those around you. You can even choose to help someone else you find hurting. Recycling your pain is both renewing and rewarding.
We are thinking of you. You are stronger and more resilient than you think you are. There is Hope in Jesus. He came at Christmas time over 2,000 years ago to live among us and go to the cross to pay the price for our sins. He rose again and lives to make intercession for us. Lean into Jesus and allow Him to cover you in His love, peace, and hope! “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” Luke 2:10
Do you know someone who needs this book? Text GRIEF to 33777 to enter to win a free copy!
About Lori & Sharon
Sharon Engram was active in the three churches her late husband, Don, pastored in Illinois, Ohio, and Arizona. As a speaker, women’s ministry leader, and Bible study teacher, she also helped found Women Anew (Ohio), an annual conference for women which has reached thousands of ladies. Sharon’s heart also expands into international missions. She helped develop the Women’s Ministry division for International Needs, assisting national women leaders in ministering to their own people. As part of that ministry, Sharon organized several women’s teams to teach at women’s conferences in third-world countries. She also served on the board of directors for World Venture Missions. Mother of four, grandmother of fourteen, and great-grandmother of eight, Sharon lives in Goodyear, Arizona.
Lori Rohlinger was active alongside her late husband, Greg, in founding Palm Valley Church in Arizona, seeing growth to over four thousand worshippers. The couple was an inspiring speaking team – he at the 2013 C3 conference for pastors in Dallas, and at the JustOne virtual conference in 2014 and 2016. Lori also spoke at the in-person Flourish Conference in 2017. She lives in Buckeye, Arizona, and is the mother of three young adult sons and one teenage daughter. Lori writes a blog and does a weekly podcast, Beautifully Broken, about widowed life.
Find out more at Survivingwidowhood.net
Giveaway closes on December 30th and winner will be announced on via email on December 31, 2022. To enter to win text GRIEF to 33777