God’s love never ends. This is a promise that God reminds us throughout the Scriptures. Sometimes we feel distant from these promises from God. The holidays can be one of these distancing times. Christmas celebrations and other holiday traditions are often joyous as we come together with our families and friends. For those who have experienced loss in the last few years, the holidays will be difficult whether or not their loss was this year. The memory of the loved one may manifest itself in stress and/or a change in their attitude. So, here are a few tips to help those in your life and ministry who may have stress or an attitudinal change around this season.
- Keep expectations simple for the holidays. Holidays are more than one day. Pace yourself.
- Helping others can also help you feel better. Visit a person in a nursing home, volunteer at an outreach center, or buy a present for a child in need.
- Take care of your body and budget. Eat healthy foods and get plenty of exercise. Make a gift budget and stick to it.
- Nurture yourself. Allow yourself to feel sadness, anger and loneliness. Take some time each day to pray and care for your self.
- Reach out to those who can journey with you in your time of grief.
Youth can often feel grief as much as adults can feel it. Adolescents make emotional connections to deceased loved ones, in both family and friendships, even if the loss has occurred months ago. It has been my experience that ritualizing the loss by celebrating anniversaries and critical memories is vitally important to how a young person envisions death in a healthy way. Advise for parents of youth who have experienced loss: let your child run the course of emotions around the loss. Help them to hear the words and narrative they share with you, so that they can start putting together a narrative of their own on how they are going to memorialize their loss.
This season, share the deep love of Christ to all people who need the Good News that God’s love never ends, even when we are in the valleys of life. Take time to care for yourself and others this season.
Rev. Andy Stoker , PhD
(214) 220-2727 ext 222
1928 Ross Ave.
Dallas Texas 75201