Mourning during the Holidays
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”-Matthew 5:2
The holidays are such a beautiful time. I love the music, the lights, putting out our nativity set, the baking, the festivities, the beautiful, warm feeling of advent, and the glorious coming of Christmas. I love every single second of Thanksgiving all the way through the New Year. However, at least once every holiday season, I have a twinge of sadness thinking about my brother who passed away in 2007.
Diego was 4 years older than me, and was BY FAR the funniest person I had ever met. We got along really well, and through different circumstances ended up living together the last year of his life. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday, because he was an AMAZING cook who used butter in E V E R Y T H I N G. He introduced me to vodka cranberries, and weird authors that made me laugh. He loved the San Francisco Giants with every fiber of is being, and watched ESPN, or listened to sports radio non-stop. He was all heart, crying at commercials or movies, and had a generous spirit. He was a wonderful father to his son, who was 2 1/2 when he died. My nephew, Xavier, was the bright star in my brother’s life, and I never saw a father love a son like that until I saw my own husband become a father. A father’s love is something magical to behold.
What I did not know, and what none of us knew, was that Diego was sick. He had a liver disease that we only found out about after his sudden passing. He was there one day, and gone the next. There is never a way to prepare of the death of a loved one, but we were beyond unprepared. Our family was devastated by his death.
That first holiday season without him was not merry or bright. It was still beautiful, because celebrating the birth of our Savior always is, but it was covered in a thick layer of sadness. I cried so much that year, both because I knew that God’s plan is always better than my own, and also because His plan allowed for such sorrow.
I know that many of you are perhaps also mourning this year, or struggling with a loss of some sort and not feeling very cheerful these days. Every year will be better. The intensity of your sorrow will pass. It may feel like your life is too severed by the loss to ever feel whole again. It may feel hard to smile, to breath, or to muster the strength to have a conversation. That person you miss, or that situation in your life that is causing you grief, may be the first thing you think about every day. IT WILL GET BETTER. One morning you will wake up and make it to breakfast without that thick layer of sadness over you. And one day that thick layer of sadness will be thinner. You will laugh and feel genuine joy again. The last thing I want you to know that time is not what has healed my wounds. It was not reading about grief, or talking about my brother, or distraction that healed me; those things HELPED me, but they did not HEAL me. It was Jesus.
Jesus sat with me when I wept, and comforted me when I felt the weight of my brother’s absence at huge events in my life. Every Christmas, my wedding day, the day my children were born, I felt the weight of his absence. But I don’t have that thin layer of sadness anymore. I can feel at peace with where my brother is and I can love him from wherever I am. Peace came through prayer, slowly and gently, and then one day my first thought when I woke up was not about my sorrow. God gave me so many graces and help to get through that challenging time. He comforted me. His promise was not in vain. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
He sent me wonderful friends, blessed my relationships, and set me on a path to adventure that I never could have foreseen. He has not forsaken or forgotten you. His plan for you is still in tact, this trial does not need to define your whole life. His love for you is great, and He will comfort you if you seek Him.
If you are mourning someone or something this Christmas I know it can feel like there is nothing to celebrate. You are not alone. Christ is in your sorrow with you, to comfort you. You are deeply and intensely known and loved. I am praying for healing for you this Christmas. May the Lord show you His peace this season.