Advent Grief

When Grief Comes with Advent

Hi Friends!

I wanted to get a newsletter out to you in late November, but I got sick over Thanksgiving. I would start to write, cough a lot, decide to take a nap, try writing again, cough more, shake my head to try clearing the brain fog, and finally give up and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie with the Chief Furry Officer. Sigh!

I know that some of you find yourself in the midst of an illness far more severe than a nasty virus. And several of you have found yourselves suddenly in the middle of challenging life-changes you never saw coming.

For several years after Mom died in 2006, I struggled with Christmas cards. At first I opened them and read them but then I just couldn’t do it. Every card I read just reminded me over and over that everyone else’s lives seemed full and busy while my own had stopped, buried in fog. Finally, I stopped reading the cards or sending them.

Selfish? Maybe.

Self-care? Maybe.

Grief? Definitely.

Grief hurts—literally. Our hearts and even our bodies just ache. And we can so easily run from the uncomfortableness of that pain, whether it comes from our own loss or the loss of a friend.

Grief can feel a bit embarrassing. I muttered to myself, “How ridiculous that reading Christmas cards does me in. I should have more Christmas spirit than this!”

But, as all the experts say, letting yourself feel what you feel for as long as it takes matters, and so does embracing the grieving process rather than running from it.

A few days ago a Christmas card came whizzing through the mail slot in the front door. I picked it up, read it, and smiled with genuine joy. For those of you good at math, that joy took twelve years to emerge fully.

So, to you my grieving friends, be patient with yourself. Let yourself feel what you feel. Give yourself time and space. But also remember that joy WILL return. These words from Lamentations gave me courage and hope in the midst of grief. May they do the same for you this advent.

What I’m Listening to: “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Home Free, an American a capella group of five male vocalists. I return to this song and this music video every year. LOVE this version with a twist at the end and set in a beautiful church. Oh, and did I mention the look on their faces?!

What I’m Reading: “Tell Me a Story: An Advent Reading Experience” written by Jen Pollock Michel. I really enjoy receiving these daily emails that weave together story and Scripture and pull me back to Jesus.

Where I’m Writing: Last month I wrote a devotional about a mysterious gift that showed up on my doorstep and how it helped me think about gratitude. You can read it here:

Finally, many of you know that I recently signed a contract with Karen Neumair of Credo Communications to represent my second book. She hopes to present the book to some publishers in January. So . . . for those of you who pray, please join me in asking God to give this project wings so that it will land where it will thrive. Know that I cherish your support! And love to hear from you. You can email me at:

Cheering you on as you seek to live connected!


You Might Also Like...

  • Linda W.
    December 6, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Afton, I needed this post today. I haven’t been in the Christmas mood at all this year. I’m grateful for your honesty. I’m giving myself permission to feel what I feel.

    • afton
      December 7, 2018 at 1:18 am

      Thanks for reading. 🙂 Perhaps we should have tea?

  • Marie Allison
    December 12, 2018 at 2:39 am

    Thank you, Afton.
    Your post was such a good reminder to be sensitive and patient with those who are grieving over the Holidays. It may take years and years for their joy to return.

    • afton
      December 12, 2018 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks for reading! Grief definitely doesn’t seem to have a standard expiration date. Miss you!