Remember the Lonely and Grieving at Christmas

Christmas should be filled with merriment and cheer. Fun moments shared with family and friends. But for many people, holidays are filled with reminders of what they’ve lost, or perhaps never even experienced during the season.

Several times in my own life, the Christmas season was emotionally difficult. But I was blessed with amazing friends who surrounded me with their love and support. What a difference that made in my world!

The first scenario was the Christmas following my divorce, when I needed to share the kids and wasn’t able to have them with me the entire time. As a single person, it can be easy to feel alone during the holidays. My immediate family lives thousands of miles away. During those years of redefining my life, my friends did whatever they could to remind me that I was a part of their family. I was invited to parties and other events, included in holiday dinners, and I never sat alone during church services.

After I remarried, the Christmas following the death of my 19 year-old stepdaughter in a car accident held moments of grief. Her absence was profoundly felt by the entire family, but for my husband, the pain resided without relief in his heart. My mother sent a note with home town news and mentioned something that touched our hearts. On Christmas Eve, the sidewalk leading up to the front doors of the church was bordered with lit candles in memory of loved ones. My parents had placed one there for Angie. Such a small thing, but I cannot tell you how much that meant to us.

This past week the Seattle area grieved the death of four police officers, assassinated in a coffee shop by a man who walked in, pointed a gun, and shot. Spouses and nine children are left behind. Thousands of police officers from across the United States and Canada attended the memorial service. It’s been a terrible blow for the area, but also a wake-up call as to what officers and their families live with every day. These families will be without their loved one this Christmas. And it will leave a huge hole in their heart. They need our support. They need our prayers.

You may realize that someone will be alone this holiday season. You may know an individual or family who’s lost a special person in their lives. You might be aware that somebody is struggling financially due to illness or a job loss.

These are a few things you can do to not only brighten their lives, but possibly provide a lifeline:

* Send them a Christmas card or call, just to let them know you’re thinking about them and haven’t forgotten what they’re going through.

* Having a party? Invite them. Even if they don’t attend, most will appreciate the gesture.

* Include them in a family dinner.

* Invite them to attend church – especially on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If the person already attends, sit together.

* If you’re financially able to provide a few gifts for a family who is struggling, there are many avenues to donate food, clothing, and toys.

* Even if you don't personally know the individual or family, you can always remember them in prayer.

This Christmas, let’s not only give gifts that are wrapped in paper and bows. Let’s give of ourselves.

Have a great week!

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