When Christmas Isn’t So Merry

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This past week my eyes are opened to the realization that for some people Christmas will not be so merry. For our family, we are grieving the loss of someone we loved very much.

We spent several Christmases with my mother-in-law, and now, everywhere I turn something reminds me of her.

  • A brightly colored sweater that would look great on her.
  • The gingerbread house kits that she always enjoyed getting for the kids.
  • A funny thing that one of the kids says or does that I know she would chuckle at. I can almost hear her laughter.

Christmas is not quite as merry this year. And all of a sudden, I see that we are not the only ones. There are families, maybe you, maybe your neighbor, who are struggling with job losses, over-whelming debts, illness, separation, imprisonment, or death.

It’s been so easy for me in my little cave to go about my business, to plan all sorts of entertainments for my children, and not to think about what other people are experiencing. And now my eyes are opening a little more.

There are those out there for whom Christmas will not be so merry.

— the family who lost their daughter just days before her fifth birthday.
— the woman whose husband is deployed and living a life of danger so that we may be free.
— the couple pursuing adoption whose birth mother changes her mind after they’ve already placed their new son into their home and into their hearts.
— the dad who is struggling to make ends meet yet fears the layoffs.

These are real scenarios. Real people. And Christmas will be different this year.

I mention this as a gentle reminder for myself and for you to think about what we can do to bring comfort to others who might not be having so merry a Christmas. Consider one of these small acts of kindness to perform this week and then again next month when the excitement has died down but the troubles perhaps have not.

  • Call and have a conversation. Find out how they are doing. Don’t be afraid of their sadness. Walk alongside them.
  • Extend an invitation to dinner. It may feel awkward at first. But be real. Be a friend.
  • Take them a meal so that they can have a night off cooking. Food doesn’t solve life’s problems, but it is a comfort.
  • Offer to watch the kids so the couple can have a date, or so the single parent can have a little down time.

These are just my first thoughts. Anybody else have some ideas?

Please tell us in the comments section.

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  1. I've walked through a hard time at Christmas–last year, we lost our 4th baby 4 days before Christmas. All of those suggestions are perfect to help ease the hurt.

    The only other thing I have to add is "send them a card or an encouraging note in the mail." I know that sometimes a conversation is just too hard, both for those grieving & those trying to help. But a note or card is perfect, because it lets the hurting know we care in a gentle way–and they have the benefit of being able to read the encouraging words over and over again.

    Thanks for the reminder, Fishmama. And I'll be lifting your family up in my prayers this Christmas…

  2. I dont have an idea, but I just want to tell you again, how sorry I am for your loss. It must be very hard to want to call her and tell her something and then realize she is not there to call. I’m praying for you and your family.

  3. I remember after the loss of my dad how much I missed the phone call each holiday where he asked how his grandson was (my son was 4 at the time).

    I agree with the note of encouraging words or words of rememberance. It took a while for me to be able to talk about my dad without the waterworks starting, so a note was much appreciated. It’s also nice to be able to pull those out with my children and read them.

    An idea for those who are grieving the loss of a grandparent – I was so afraid my children wouldn’t remember their Poppy, so I created a memory box, and encouraged all those around us to add something – a letter with a memory, a note, a token to the box so that my children could experience all of the facets of their grandfather – as a brother, a friend, a coworker, a son-in-law…. It is a priceless memory for me.

    Fishmama, I am so sorry for your loss, and I pray for you.


  4. Michelle and Kathy,

    Thanks so much for your prayers. I appreciate them very much. It’s nice to know that there are so many people lifting up our family to God this week.

    Thank you.

  5. Hello,
    Having just lost my 16 year old handicapped son just a little over a month ago I appreciate this post. My love, thoughts, and prayers have been with all of your family. Death is a hurdle for all to deal with no matter how much Faith we have.
    One thing that has helped me is throwing myself into the service of others. Now that I understand the broken hearted a little more I decided that for the month of Dec. I would serve them more. Here below are some ideas that I came up with to do for my Christmas Challenge this year. Some of the ideas can be used anytime through out the year really.
    I pray the comfort of the Savior will see you through this dark time.

    This Week:)
    Week 3
    Week 2
    Week 1

  6. Kerrie, so sorry to hear about Aron’s grandmother.

    Hopefulone, what a beautiful tribute to your son. (I visited your blog.)

    May God’s peace be very tangible to you both this year.

  7. Sorry, I’ve been a bit behind on some blogging…I just saw your comment on my prayer blog, and I wanted you to know I am praying for you…That God would help you be the helpmate He designed you to be for your husband. What an awesome request, and I know He will answer you and give you the strength to be a joyful helpmate!