Psalm 30:11 - You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
With Christmas upon us it can be difficult for those who have recently lost a loved one. Your first Christmas after losing a loved one somehow causes the glow of Christmas to turn into a dark sky.
Everywhere you look you see reminders of the one you lost. Maybe you hear their favorite Christmas song, and you remember singing it together. Or perhaps you don’t want to put up a Christmas tree, because the scent from the tree will take you back to funny memories of trying to pick just the right tree and ending up cutting half of it off when you got home.
So what do you do? Turn off the radio or don’t put on a Christmas CDs? Do you forgo getting that tree? And when you’re invited to join others in their homes for Christmas do you come up with a reason to say no?
How do you navigate the waters of the season? Psychcentral.com in their article, “Beating the Holiday Blues,” has some tips on facing your first Christmas after losing a loved one. One of their ideas is create your own traditions. If old ones bring up painful memories, then make some new ones. Another is to stay busy and avoid unstructured time. Find fun ways to fill up your days. Even if you don’t feel like having fun, by moving forward and allowing yourself to feel the loss, but also feel the hope that somehow this Christmas will be filled with joy and not just sorrow.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. The psalmist, David, was going through tough times. He was mourning over his loses, yet somehow his mourning turned into joy; he was able to take off his mourning clothes and pick up clothes of joy.
What does this mean? In biblical times after someone had died, they put on dark clothes made out of a scratchy material and even put ashes on their heads. It was a sign to those around them that something awful had happened such as the death of a loved one.
It was significant then that David was able to put those clothes away and not just put on regular clothes but clothes that showed he was no longer mourning publically. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t sad inside. That would heal with time. But he was choosing to focus instead on all the good things in the rest of his life.
It would not be right for someone else to tell you how long you should mourn. That is up to the hurting one. But by looking at this verse, and the suggestions above, we can find the road back to be joy.
May this Christmas be a reminder of favorite songs and putting up Christmas trees, but let’s focus on the happy memories and make some new ones at the same time. I know that’s what I’m trying to do; put away the bad memories and create new moments that will fill my heart throughout the Christmas season.
Key words: holiday blues, loved one passes, Christmas reminders, old memories and new, mourning turned to joy
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.