Dear grieving friend,
This will be your first Christmas since your loved one passed away. It will be hard. Believe me, I know. Six years ago, today, my mom unexpectedly passed away---slipping away from us before we could say goodbye. Our first Christmas without her was so hard. We cried, we reminisced, we cried, we ate foods made from some of Mom’s famous recipes, we cried, we laughed about stupid things we did as kids, we cried, we comforted Dad, and then we cried some more. Sometimes it felt as though the fountain would never dry up, and the hole in our hearts would never heal. We missed her so much. We still do. Christmas is not the same without her. But the pain has lessened over the years; it’s no longer sharp, it’s dulled. It’s still there—in the background—the sense of loss never goes away completely. Now there’s a new normal, but there will always be someone missing at the dining room table. That's why it’s called “loss.”
So, let me encourage you to grieve freely. Cry. The ability to cry is a gift from God, a means of processing our pain. Be free to cry with those whom you love. You don't have to pretend it doesn't hurt. Tears can bind you together more closely as you comfort one another. Let me also remind you that the God of the Bible is the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3), an “ever present help in time of need” (Psalm 46), and the Shepherd of those who trust in the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who is the “Man of Sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3). We have a Savior who understands grief; He wept when one of his good friends died (John 11:35).
Let me also encourage you to seek comfort from God’s Word. If you are not familiar with the Bible, please take some time to read Psalm 23 and then John 10. The only way any of us can truly be comforted by the affirmation, “The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23), is if we have placed our faith in the Good Shepherd of John 10, the One who laid down His life for us. He has died in our place, but He is also “the resurrection and the life,” the One who gives life to all who believe (John 11:25-26).
[Paul Tautges serves as pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of Comfort the Grieving.]