Advent Grief

When Grief Comes with Advent

This is an edited version of a post I first wrote in 2018. I publish it again with the hope and prayer that it will encourage some of you who face loss this 2022 holiday season.

For many 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 countless times, “How ridiculous that reading Christmas cards does me in. I should have more Christmas spirit than this!”

But, as all the experts say,  embracing the grieving process matters. Running from it never brings long-term physical, mental, or spiritual health.

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. May they do the same for you.

Eventually, the day did come when a Christmas card whizzed through the mail slot in the front door, and I picked it up, opened it, read it, and smiled with genuine joy. For those of you good at math, that joy took twelve years to emerge fully. But joy did come . . .

My prayer for those of you who grieve this advent:

May you give yourself space and time to grieve. And in the midst of your tears of anger, disbelief, sorrow, loneliness, frustration . . . may you feel the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around your tender heart.

  • 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!