Michelle: This is a sad Christmas for some. Mia wrote us to share that she just buried her fiancé this week. They were supposed to get married this February. She is feeling so much grief and loss. It is understandable that when we lose someone very important to us, we find it doubly difficult to celebrate and be happy, especially at this time of year when the season is supposed to be merry and bright. Pain is inevitable but we can choose not to wallow in the pain. Christmas can still be celebrated if we take it to heart that the reason for the season is love—that goes beyond death, space or time.
DJ: The festive season is likely to amplify grief. There are twinkling lights, jolly songs, endless gift-buying, a sense of collective joy and celebration all around. It is okay to be sad. But I also think “cancelling Christmas” is not a good idea. My suggestion? Plan ahead. Think about which festivities and rituals she feels comfortable in participating. Christmas dinner only with immediate family, for example, sounds like a good idea. The key here is to be proactive. This will make her feel more in control of her situation.
M: I remember when my dad passed away, Christmas that year felt sad and incomplete. Even amid the festivities, tears would fall and there was an ache in my heart. Even now, five years later, there are moments when grief and sadness makes itself felt. I learned that we all have different ways of grieving and coping with our grief. So, let the grieving process take its course but also try to remember that there are family and friends who want to make you feel better, loved and cared for.
DJ: Any form of absence is keenly felt in a season when people come together. Christmas is about relationships, about kindness, compassion and love. I hope Mia will make a huge effort to meet people who matter. It helps to speak about the one she lost if and when she needs it. Even if it’s painful. Let it out. Open up to friends and loved ones and spend time in their company. There really is no magic day of closure. That’s why it helps to accept all and any form of support that’s offered.
M:I know it sounds trite but really, Christmas is in our hearts. No matter our circumstances, we can decide what our attitude should be. Life has to go on. Sooner or later, the pains or joys of the past will and can change. My favorite prayer from St. Teresa of Avila goes: “Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing affright you. All things are passing, God alone does not change. Patient endurance will attain all things. Whoever possesses God, will possess everything. God alone suffices.”
DJ: Many years ago, I experienced a very bad heartbreak two days before Christmas day. At about noontime on the 25th, I said to myself, “Heck. I’m going out and do some acts of kindness.” I bought toys and distributed them to random kids on the street. I ended up feeling joy seeing surprise written all over their faces. Spreading a little joy to others has a way of making us feel better. The season is a celebration of Christ’s birth. And He promised to wipe away every tear. If this Christmas won’t be happy, I pray for Mia to at least have something blessed and meaningful to celebrate.