Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Not So Merry Christmas

If you’re reading this, you lived to see Christmas 2020 and that in itself, is a blessing!  Maybe you were happy, maybe you grieved your way through it, maybe you were surrounded by family, maybe you celebrated alone; whatever your situation was, God saw fit for you to be here. Even with a heart full of gratitude, it’s been a rough week for me. 

This was the first time in some years that I wasn’t dreading the coming of Christmas. I didn’t spend the weeks leading up to it, wondering how I would feel when the day arrived. I didn’t walk around in a daze. I didn’t cry. But as soon as I walked in the home I spent my whole childhood in, a depression set in that I couldn’t get rid of.

Being home for the holidays has been difficult since my dad died but I think this year was the worst it’s ever been. I was only there for a week but each night I was excited I was one day closer to getting on a plane and getting out of there; I was literally counting the days. I felt like a stranger in a place I should have been familiar with which was a new feeling for me. I’m used to feeling sad or not wanting to get out much, but this was different. Everywhere and everything reminded me that my dad was missing from my life. Home didn’t feel like home. Streets I traveled countless times made me feel like I was in a distant land. I could not identify with these places and spaces without my father. It took all the energy I could muster up to interact with people outside of my mom and younger sister. And the anxiety of this pandemic added fuel to a blazing fire.

It took a while to recognize my emotional state. I knew something was off but I don’t think I wanted to admit it. Even though I know grief is a process (in a lot of ways, a cycle), I definitely thought I had gotten over this part. Clearly, I had not. My sister said she noticed at Christmas dinner I was present, but checking in and checking out. She was right. I thought about the tips I gave for dealing with grief last week (click here) and had to put them to use. 

With all that was going on inside of me, I still managed to laugh from the depths of my soul, thank God for my family, dream about the one I love, celebrate friends, and be hopeful. This year I have learned the art of two things being true. I have learned to live with “both/and.” I can be sad and hopeful. I can be both drained and inspired. I can feel lost and know I’ll be found. One feeling does not negate the other, and there is enough room for both. Hopefully, your Christmas was a lot merrier than mine but even if it wasn’t, let this be a reminder that you’re not alone and we’re all doing the best we can do, you included. 

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

December 2020

Grieving During the Holidays

Here are 4 tips to get you through Christmas as you grieve.

1. Breathe

Something so simple can have a major impact. We can spend so much time trying not to cry, trying to smile, trying not to feel, we forget to simply breathe. When you find yourself almost consumed by the sadness, take a deep breath. Then, take another. (You can find more about breathing, here)

2. Cry

For some, this may seem counterproductive (it certainly did to me) but bottled up tears don’t just disappear. Give yourself space to cry. Whether you do it when you first wake up and that aching hits you in the chest or after you make it through the day as you realize time didn’t stop because your loved one passed. You may have to go in the bathroom in the middle of the festivities and that’s okay. If you feel like crying, cry.

3. Fake It

This may sound contradictory to the above but stay with me. Maybe you have kids and a family depending on you to prepare Christmas dinner or maybe you’re in charge of organizing the annual family talent show. Maybe you have to go to work and literally can’t afford to stay in bed like you want to. Your responsibilities don’t care about your grief. Fake your way through it. If you have to put a timer on your phone to go to the bathroom every hour and give yourself a five minute check-in, do that. If you have to spend your lunch break crying in your car, do that. And the rest of the time, smile even though it hurts. Try to muster up the strength to find a joke to tell. You may look back and realize this wasn’t a very happy Christmas, but you did what you had to in order to get through the day. 

4. Talk 

Grief can feel like our dirty little secret. We don’t want anyone to know we’re struggling. We are held captive by our own emotions. It doesn’t have to be that way. Find someone who you know will be supportive and tell them how you’re feeling. Tell them your mad or you’re sad or you don’t feel anything. Tell them you can’t wait for the day to be over. Tell them you tried to fake happy and just couldn’t. And after you’ve done that, talk to God. Even if you’re mad at Him, even if you don’t think He can hear you, do it anyway. 

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (NLT)

December 2020

To read more about my grief journey: