season of joy?

Ah, Christmas, the season of joy and warmth, of gifts and traditions and family. It’s a heartwarming time of year.

But not for everyone.

For some, this time of year brings extra pain, the reminder of lost loved ones. This season, I find myself thinking of them, of the hundreds of families in France and Kenya and Nigeria, and elsewhere around the world, whose loved ones stolen away by hatred, leaving an achingly empty seat at the table.

I’m thinking of those who watched a family member fade away due to illness, and those for whom tragedy struck unexpectedly, an accident that ended a life.

No matter how their loved one was lost, I know there are thousands who feel the weight of grief amidst the cheerful candlelight, a pain that grows more acute while the world around them celebrates family.

As the rest of us greet family and gleefully open presents, those who lost loved ones this year will be thinking of the presents that will never be opened, the plans they used to have, the expectations that are now shattered. They’ll see their loved ones everywhere they look—in that window display with the twinkly lights she adored so much, in that gift he would’ve loved. A wave of pain can hit unexpectedly and suddenly the cheer and festivities become cruel reminders of loss.

If you’re grieving this season, please know you’re on my mind and in my prayers. The pain you’re feeling will never vanish, but it will fade, over time. Little by little, the memories you clasp tightly will begin to bring a smile instead of anguish. Those seem like empty words now, but cling to that hope and let those around you carry you through when the pain becomes too great.

And although your loved one will always be with you, one day you’ll find the grief doesn’t crush you any more and the future doesn’t look so daunting. One step at a time, one breath at a time.

For now, let the tears fall without shame, and I’ll be here, wrapping my prayers around your wounded heart.