How to Deal with Unwanted and Lingering ‘Grief’ this Christmas


Christmas time can be a time to make and remember sweet memories even as it also triggers grief because of those very memories or lost opportunities. 

Typically, this is because of the loss of loved ones either because they died near Christmas long ago or because it’s one of your first Christmases without them.

Sometimes it’s because of divorce, facing the harsh reality of a holiday alone or with a fractured family. 

In either case, grief loves to show up at Christmas time, lingering in your “living” room and life. 

I was talking to someone the other day who is struggling with this very problem at the start of the holiday season. Instead of feeling joyous and full of anticipation, she is feeling angry and sad most days. 

My conversation with her reminded me of “cousin Eddie” from the old movie, Christmas Vacation. 

If you’re not familiar with the movie, Eddie wanted to visit his cousin, Clark Griswold, for Christmas. So he came rolling up in an RV only to “camp out” in his cousin’s driveway for an extended stay. 

In many ways, Eddie represents the boundary-busting guest who not only gets on your every nerve but stays long past his/her welcome. 

Cousin Eddie also stands as a great representative of “GRIEF” at the holiday season.

We groan when “he” shows up at the doorstep of our hearts and we resist inviting him in. But he is so pushy and forceful that he easily bowls us over at our very own threshold. 

Is the right thing to do to barricade our door? Maybe pretend not to be home? Call the cops on him, perhaps? 

These are the kinds of actions and attitudes we might be tempted to take, figurately speaking, with grief. 

But this is not the way to approach “Cousin Eddie,” aka “Grief.”

God brings the feeling of grief, as well as the troubles that cause grief into our lives for two very good reasons … 

  • First, because God holds sovereign control of all that touches our lives, redeeming it for the believer. 
  • Second, because He created within you a need to process your grief with His help so you can find healing. 

6 Ways to Accept and Find Healing for Your Grief

1. Invite others into your experience of grieving.

“Nihum Avelim” was an old Jewish tradition that involved certain people coming alongside to mourn as a way to comfort the mourning family. 

Jeremiah 9:17 even refers to and encouraged this healing practice … 

“Consider, and call for the mourning women to come; send for the skillful women to come.” 

God does not want you to avoid or ignore your grief or grieving. He wants you to embrace it and even invite others into your grieving to help you release the pain and load ultimately to God. 

Also, be sure to ask your friends to pray for and with you since God promises His healing when we do! (James 5:16)

2. Prayerfully bring your burden of grief to God. 

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30

God wants to come alongside you like the mourners did in the Jewish tradition of “Nihum Avelim.” 

Although this verse is foundationally about receiving the rest found in salvation, God still works alongside you in all of your struggles and losses.

He grieves with you. And when you are heartbroken, so is He (Psalm 34:18)!

3. Cry and let God know exactly how you feel. 

Remember how Jesus dealt with His grief in the Garden of Gethsemane? 

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   Luke 22:42-44

He sure didn’t hold back but instead poured out all of His pain to His Father in more ways than one.

We need to do this too! 

You might fear sharing your deepest feelings with others in your life. But you never need to worry about being totally vulnerable with Your Father!

4. Trust that God is using your loss to strengthen your faith. 

Listen to Paul’s words … 

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.  —2 Corinthians 1:8-10

I just love this passage because I’ve related to it on so many occasions when the suffering was more than I could bear. That’s when I pull this passage out to bring much-needed perspective and peace.

It reminds me that God is working out something good in me in every bad situation. 

5. Grieve with hope. 

Those who’ve lost loved ones can really claim and apply this verse and truth … 

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  —1 Thessalonians 4:13 (emphasis mine)

Still, any loss, when it’s laid at the Father’s feet allows us to grieve with the hope of Christ since He is our Hope embodied.

6. Find others you can comfort with the comfort you have received from God. 

Hover over to read this passage: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

I’ve added this suggestion even though you might want to wait a bit on this. Do it when you are stronger and able to bear the weight, asking God to guide you on when to do it.

Once you do this, you’ll be so encouraged to see God using your experience of suffering to help someone else gain perspective and comfort. 

Just remember … your grief may not be a welcome guest, nor someone you want lingering in your life. But know that God is using that “bothersome” visitor in the living room of your life to bring the healing you need. 

Oh, and this is just like cousin Eddie too! He managed to fix Clark’s problem of a year-end bonus in a rather boundary-busting but hilarious way!

Ya just never know how God is going to use your “grief” to restore your joy!

I’d also love for you to check out my latest WORTHY Bible study, Grace Covers, which examines Romans chapters 1-4. It’s currently on sale for a limited time. The paperback is $5.99 and Kindle is $2.99.

I also have two new WORTHY Bible Study Journals (8.5″ x 11″) with two distinct designs (inside and out)—leaf and tree motifs. Each journal uses WORTHY prompts and offers colorful spaces for writing your notes in while studying, applying, and praying the Scriptures.

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