Walking through Loss during the Holidays

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” “Happy Thanksgiving,” “Merry Christmas,” and “Happy New Year” are all phrases we hear both from loved ones and strangers that encourage us to be happy during this season. But for someone who is carrying the burden of grief or loss, the holidays may seem less like a time to relax and enjoy than a struggle to just make it through. The holiday season can be a painful reminder of a loved one who is no longer here to share it. 

Exactly one year ago, just days before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were walking through our third miscarriage. Unfortunately, walking through loss during the holidays wasn’t new to us; we had found out about our first pregnancy days before Christmas, but lost our little one shortly after New Year’s. There is never a good time to experience loss, but grief is often amplified during times that are meant for celebration. 

How am I “supposed” to feel?

Walking through grief and loss during the holidays can make you feel as though you are in a fog. You may even wonder how the rest of the world keeps moving on like everything is normal when you don’t feel able to do the same. I remember mindlessly opening social media around this time only to find creative holiday baby announcements, new wedding engagements, and photos of people celebrating with family, which only left me feeling emptier. 

From sharing our own story of loss, I began to gain the perspective that people do not always feel joyous during the holiday season. People experience many different forms of loss: loss of a loved one or spouse they have made years of traditions with, loss of a home, loss of a relationship, or loss of hope. Many people are in desperate need of the reminder of their Savior’s birth to break through their loneliness and grief.  

Comfort through Christ

Jesus championed for us the combination of faith and grief as He mourned over the death of Lazarus, wept and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and faithfully suffered for hours on the cross for the sins of the world. We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has experienced all of our pain, including loss, rejection, betrayal, and death.

One of my favorite holiday traditions is attending candlelight Christmas Eve services at church. Many songs that we sing are favorites, but if you take a look at the song “O Holy Night,” you will see lines that may bring great hope if you are grieving this holiday season: 

A thrill of hope—the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn!

Although we may feel weary and carry the heavy burden of loss, our hope in Jesus allows us to rejoice. At His birth, the world broke forth into a new day. In the city of David, a Savior was born to carry all of our pain one day to Calvary. This is our great hope at Christmas—Jesus, who came to earth as a baby and died on the cross in our place, will one day return. A glorious morn is coming when there will be no more tears, pain, loneliness, or despair.

“O Holy Night” text is public domain.  

If you have lost a loved one and are looking for material to understand and cope with the loss this holiday season, order Hope When Your Heart Breaks below. 

Order Hope When Your Heart Breaks

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Written by

Monica Kegley

Monica Kegley is a wife, teacher, and photographer. Although she grew up in San Francisco, California, she is part of Concordia University Wisconsin’s alumni and now lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, Noah, who is a pastor. She enjoys photography, calligraphy, trying new coffee places around Milwaukee, and walking their dog, Cali.

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