This time of year, as we go through the seasons of Fall into Winter, provides us with so many opportunities for joy and family time as well as a focus on giving and receiving. Typically, this is a time of year that we find peace in seeing so much good among people. However, this can also be a time of sadness, despair and loneliness, especially if a loved one has died (whether from Covid-19 or other causes) and thus you can’t help but feel their absence even stronger during this time that is so focused on family.
For some there is a tendency to withdrawal; a desire to skip over this time of year as though it is not happening because it is so hard to imagine going through this time without your loved one physically by your side. Each of these celebrations from Halloween to the New Year can be used to aid in your mourning. Perhaps you can use the graces God offers in these holidays to help you actively remember and mourn your loved one, in private or in the company of friends and family.
Here are some ideas that might help you through each of these celebrations.
When a loved one has died, each of us usually goes back to a private area of mourning after the usual ceremonies and rites connected with the funeral. Covid-19 has caused a need to wear facial masks, but honestly ask yourself if you have been putting on a “mask of false appearance” to hide your emotions from those around you – or even hiding your real emotions from yourself? Consider what type of mask have you been wearing since the death of your loved one? What would really show if you took that mask off? It’s okay to let the “real you” show. God knows the real you and loves every bit of it! Some people will know better how to care for you if they know how you truly are. How are people opening their door to you? Share your heart with those you can trust. Don’t be afraid to open your door to others.
All Saints and All Souls
With these celebrations we are reminded that we are not alone, and we never completely lose connection with those who have died. This is a good time to openly cherish the memory of the person who has died by planning to gather with family members and close friends to share favorite stories while visiting the cemetery or partaking of a meal together or, simply, light a candle at home and reminisce about the moments lived with the person and reflect on their life. Additionally, we know that those who have died when in the presence of God can and do intercede prayerfully for us. Pray for your loved one and ask them to pray for you.
Make a Blessings Inventory. List everything you can think of that you are thankful for in your life. Eucharist comes from the Greek word, Eucharistia, which means thanksgiving. When you receive the Eucharist at the table of the Lord and when you are at your Thanksgiving table give thanks for the life and love of your loved one as well as for the friends and family who are still with you.
The Feast of Christ the King
Jesus Christ is the King of everything on Earth and in Heaven. He is a benevolent King. Invite Him to rule over your life. Ask in the Name of Jesus Christ for whatever you long for – He wants to bless you with good things. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Ask Jesus to be the King of your grief. Write a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ asking him to take away the negative and pain that rules your life right now. Ask Jesus to be the King of your mind, body, and soul. Invite the King into your grief.
This is a time of anticipation and expectation. As a Church we anticipate the coming of Jesus in three ways:
1) The Nativity, the birth of Jesus, God incarnate
2) Jesus coming into your heart and life
3) The Second Coming, Parousia, the Final coming of Jesus.
Use this time to:
1) Remember how your loved one first came into your life, remember their birth stories.
2) How did and does your loved one come into your heart and life while living now?
3) Faithfully know that as you grow in your relationship with God, you are journeying towards seeing your loved one again.
Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, Family, and Giving and Receiving of gifts. We appreciate the presents and love the presence of our loved ones and of God. Recall how your loved one was and is a gift to you. Focus on the joy of the family you still have. Find the joy in the ways God made himself present in the life of your loved one and continues to do so as you mourn their loss.
The Feast of the Holy Family commemorates their life together and the celebration focuses on religious family life. Reflect on what “family” means to you. Your situation has been changed by the death of your loved one, and it will never be exactly the same, but it is helpful to acknowledge the family you still have. How can you do this? How will you relate with your family members in this new situation?
This is a time of new expectations, new hope, new plans, new goals. This is a time of continued expectations for good things to come. What are some goals you would like to set for yourself for this year? Did you already have plans for this year? Will you follow through with that plan? Or, do you need to make some changes to accomplish those plans? Is there anything special you would like to plan to do this year to honor and remember your loved one who died? Who are the people in your life you want to spend more time with this year?
What have you discovered about yourself, your loved one, others, and life that has been helpful, enlightening, and strengthening? What do you hope to discover on your continued journey? How can you use the things you have learned during this time of mourning and reflection to bring yourself closer to Jesus?
Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13-14, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.” This holiday season invite your family and friends to share your trouble. It is my prayer that through the Grace of God, and with an open grieving perspective of the holidays you may yield to the Graces of the celebrations to help you mourn your loved one in private and with your closest family and friends.
- It’s Trauma Not Culture - October 27, 2022
- Experiencing Grace & Hope While Grieving During the Holidays - October 20, 2018
- Journey Of The Living Through Grief - November 1, 2017
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