Even the mended pieces of a widow’s broken heart can wince at the dawn of a new Christmas season. The first year is the hardest, but each passing year somehow accentuates the permanence of the absence of his physical presence. Merging the memories of Christmas past with the hope of Christmas present can be daunting.
Somewhere along the journey of grief we need to choose to be gracious to ourselves and allow God’s healing power to permeate our soul and flow into our life. As we enter this Christmas season, it is a great time to embrace God’s gift of grace and decide grief does not have to define who we are. It is only a part of our story and part of our experience. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus Christ coming into the world to be our sacrifice so we can have eternal life and the hope He brings to help us live our earthly life to the fullest no matter what trials and traumas we may encounter and endure. God gives us supernatural grace as His gift to make this possible.
And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all! And He has generously given each one of us supernatural grace, according to the size of the gift of Christ.
Ephesians 4: 6-7 TPT
Our grief and pain can make us feel small and weak. All the changes we face, as we now find ourselves alone in a way only widows can truly grasp, make us feel so vulnerable and perhaps afraid. God reaches out to us to remind us He offers us unlimited grace to empower us through our weakness. He bids us to look to Him and trust Him to take us to a good place where our future is bright.
But He answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and My power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.
2 Corinthians 12: 9
The grace of God is God’s favor and kindness toward us. Grace from a Biblical perspective is defined as the divine influence that operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation. It is an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.
In the book, It’s Grief, by Edy Nathan, she shares this beautiful expression of what defines grace in light of our journey through grief.
Grief is a teacher
Grace is peace
Grace is calm
Grace is flying
Grace is “I am”
Grace is coming out intact
Grace is abundance
Grace is beauty
Grace is breath
Grace is divine
Grace is duty
Grace is coming out alive
Grace is surviving
Grace is positive
Grace is knowing
Grace is understanding
Grace is role-shifting
Grace is a journey
Grace is infinite
So many beautiful expressions of ways grace can impact our lives. The last one is open because this is not even an exhaustive list. When you think about it, there can be so many more to consider. It is a great way to open your heart to new possibilities and new adventures.
Last year I was able to put up my Christmas tree for the first time since my husband went home to Heaven. Technically, it was the second, but that first year was only done because there was a memorial service for him the Saturday before and the Saturday after Christmas and I was just doing what I thought I was supposed to do. I can’t even remember getting it up or how I managed it.
This year I don’t want to do anything out of obligation. This season was always our favorite time of year. Our wedding anniversary is in December. My heart is marred by the memories of his memorial services. There are other sweet traditions we had that still burn deeply I thought would be softer by now. I’m doing better in a lot of ways, yet the sights, sounds, smells, parties, and movies continue to awaken so much emotion and memories I feel unsteady and off balance, and like the emotions are always on the verge of exploding.
Christmas is the season of miracles. It is a time when nearly everyone steps back at least a little to take time to be with people. Most people take time to give gifts and plan parties or special events just for Christmas. It is a time when families like to participate in traditions and prepare special foods to share. Most people give generously to the poor, children’s charities, veterans, and more because they want to see everyone remembered. Kindness is on display. All the festive decorations and lights and music fills the air to spurn on the atmosphere of joy and expectation.
Perhaps it’s time to incorporate some new traditions into our story that allow our hearts to remember, and at the same time allow them to expand our capacity to love. We can explore new ideas that add to our changing identity without forgetting our history. All lives face various levels of change and transition through the years. Our journey has a very important past, but an even more important future. We can allow ourselves the grace and courage to embrace meaningful experiences and enjoy this life God gives us.
I found some pretty interesting ideas on ways to add new traditions I thought I would share. Feel free to adapt them as you wish. Maybe you have some ideas you could share in the comments of things you do to either celebrate your husband’s life at Christmas, or ways you pivoted to make your celebrations better suited to your life moving forward.
Plant or Put Up a Remembrance Tree
I think this is a really exceptional idea. It can be in your yard, or you could find a special place to have it put where the community or a company will have access. Every year people can come and place an ornament with the name of a loved one they are missing this Christmas. It could be a place where people can go when they are feeling that loss and need a connection point so they can just think about that person. I think it should be an evergreen tree of some sort. It would be a healing tree. Perhaps you could consider sponsoring one at a local hospice house or grief center. It could be as simple as having some cut out paper ornaments with markers or pens available on a nearby table so visitors can write the names of their loved ones and hang them.
Put Regrets in the Fire
We keep a lot of memories and traditions in our hearts at Christmas. Sometimes we may also be holding onto things like regret, guilt, and feelings of resentment. A holiday tradition of lighting a fire is a good way to start the season off with a clean slate. Write down your regrets from the past year, and any feelings or frustrations you are ready to put behind you. Perhaps there is someone you need to forgive or a situation that left you hurt. Maybe there is something you wish you could tell your husband, or another deceased loved one. Consider writing a letter to them and pour out your heart so you can finally let it go. When you are finished, throw your regrets and letters into the fire to symbolize a fresh start.
One to Have, and One to Give
I heard this idea on a Christmas movie and it touched my heart. The Christmas season is about giving. The Bible tells us it is better to give than to receive. The actress had a tradition of always giving two gifts whenever she gave something. The first gift was for the person she was giving it to. The second gift was a wrapped gift the receiver was given and asked to give away to someone of their choice. The second gift did not need to be big or extravagant. She liked to bake Christmas cookies and the second gift could be a small sampling of the cookies she made. She said she wanted to inspire the spirit of giving in this way. I think it is a lovely idea and a beautiful way to enrich the spirit of kindness. It can be a beautiful tradition that is quite unique.
Holiday Memory/Gratitude Box
If it’s been an especially difficult year, a good way to help shift perspective is to count your blessings and think about the things you are thankful for. Set up a special place with a box, slips of paper, and pens. Create a cute sign and invite friends and family to write down their favorite holiday memories, memories of loved ones, and/or gratitude’s. Ask them to place their slips in the box. You could let this be an ongoing project through the season or limit it to a special gathering or event. At any special gatherings you can set aside time to read them out loud so everyone can hear and remember.
A variation on this idea would be to cover a door with paper and perhaps add some ribbon to make it look like a wrapped present. Place the instruction sign prominently on the door inviting guests to write their memories and messages of thanksgiving right on the door. Whenever people pass by the door, they can read the messages and add new ones. At the end of the season you can take it down and keep it with your Christmas storage to share the coming year.
This is a great idea, especially for a family dealing with a new loss. Create a secret signal for your family members to give one another when something reminds them of the person who died. This could be a signal used at any moment, happy or sad, throughout the year. The signal could be a hand gesture or a special word. Maybe you could set up a family text group just for this where you are free to express what triggered that memory. It could help everyone feel seen and heard on this important topic.
Surprisingly there were quite a few other ideas out there as well. I pray this sparks an idea or two in your heart if you are looking for a way to remember the man you loved and at the same time keep healing and forging a new future without him at your side. The holidays can test our hearts and bring a bittersweet mix of memories.
Adopting new traditions and rituals at Christmas gives us the opportunity to find meaningful and lasting ways to remember our loved ones. It allows those who died to continue to play a role in our holiday celebrations going forward. May you embrace God’s grace to help you find the right ideas for you and your family. May this Christmas season be one where healing flows and you find some special joy to build good memories to last your lifetime. God bless you.
Do you know someone ready to make a meaningful impact this holiday season? Join us in embracing the true spirit of giving by getting involved in the Hope for Widows Foundation’s ‘Bring Hope Holiday Assistance Program’ virtual initiative, now in its third year. This program directly supports widows who may be struggling to provide gifts and essentials for their children during the holiday season.
For many widows facing financial challenges, the choice between keeping the lights on, putting food on the table, and buying presents can be heart-wrenching. When you add the responsibilities of solo parenting, the weight of grief, and the toll it takes emotionally and physically, the burden becomes even greater.
To become a sponsor and access more information, and details visit the following link: https://bit.ly/3ZROBWo
For our widows/hope sisters in the community, please stay tuned as we’ll be sending out widow applications for sponsorship this holiday season very soon.
Let’s come together and make a difference in the lives of those who need it most.