Although the holidays are a time of new birthed hope and of celebration for the One who came to give us new life, for many, there is probably not a time in the year more painful. Or more joy-less.
For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, hope and joy are not easily found. This month I’ve been writing about holding onto our hope during the holidays. Although I’ve experienced grief and struggled to find my hope and joy during this time, I cannot speak to the profound grief of loss. But I have a friend who can and today she is here with us to give us
10 tangible ways we can bring joy to someone who is grieving.
Kathe is a dear friend of mine and author of four hope-filled books about grief. I get the honor of praying with this practical, yet Spirit-filled woman who loves big and sacrifices much. I am so thankful for her and honored to have her writing here in this space today!
Are you grieving the loss of a loved one or know someone who is? Holidays can be painful for people who are grieving. Coping with change, family and festivities may feel draining and overwhelming. Yet, it is possible to experience joy as you grieve. Learn how to give or receive hope if you’re grieving and experience joy in the midst of it.
Have you ever lost your joy?
Many years ago, I was early in my grief journey of losing my infant son. Christmas was coming and I didn’t have the emotional energy or desires to do all the things I normally did. Frankly, I would have rather skipped Christmas that year, but I knew it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of my family, especially our first grade son.
How would I survive the holidays?
Was going through the motions good enough or was it possible to experience joy in spite of my pain? If so, how?
God help me! I prayed.
Armed with favorite Christmas decorations, I climbed the ladder propped in our family room. Among them was a wooden lamb ornament with hand painted words “Jesus loves John Samuel”. Sent from a long distance friend to honor our son’s brief life, I swiped a tear and hung it on the Christmas tree.
Another favorite decoration was a quilter’s hoop adorned with red and green letters that spelled JOY. To my surprise, in the midst of my sorrow, meaningful memories flooded my mind of fun times and special people as I placed the hoop atop the wall unit.
Then without warning, the hoop vanished.
To my horror, I discovered it had slipped through the space at the back and was wedged between the wall and the wall unit. I tried hard to squeeze my arm through the tiny space and grab it, but couldn’t. My joy had literally slipped away. Would I ever get my joy back?
Perhaps you feel as if your joy has slipped away too. Has loss or life’s circumstances overwhelmed you? Do you want to experience joy in the midst of your grief?
Take advice from Nehemiah, a fellow griever and willing servant called by God to do a seemingly impossible job to rebuild a wall and a nation. He clung to the promises of God. He claimed joy as his through Him.
“The joy of the Lord is our strength” Nehemiah 8:10
So, like him, cry out to God. Invite Him to be your strength. Trust Him to be your source of joy.
Other tips that helped me cope with hope as I grieved.
Praise Focus on who God is to you or who you need Him to be. Keep your eyes focused on God, not your circumstances. Moms in Prayer International is a great resource of praise.
Receive Let others encourage you in practical, tangible ways. (See list below and give to others or add ideas of your own) Enter to win a set of my books, Hopelifter, Grieving the Loss of a Loved One, and Grieving the Child I Never Knew (read all the way to the end of this post to find the giveaway details!
Give Allow God to use you. Invite Him to enlarge your life through loss and open up opportunities to help someone else. We go throughwhat we go through to help others go through what we went through.
We go through what we go through to help others go through what we went through
When we moved and they loaded our wall unit onto the moving van, you guessed it, I found my joy again. The hoop with red and green JOY is proudly displayed in my home this year. May the joy of the Lord will be your strength this Christmas.
10 ways to spread holiday hope to someone who is grieving10 ways to spread holiday hope to someone who is grieving #hopelifters #joy #3bookgiveaway #grief Click To Tweet
1. Express thankfulness Send a note or share a word of appreciation recalling a memory or special character quality about the lost loved one. (Make sure to write/say the person’s name)
2. Fill the “responsibility void”. Offer to cook, decorate, buy/wrap presents, babysit, run errands or invite him/her to join you for the holidays and try a new tradition.
3. Personalize an ornament with the loved one’s name on it.
4. Make a memory tree, wreath, or holiday basket. Include the lost loved one’s favorite things (gum, coffee cup, shirt, toy, bible verse, cologne, fresh flower, music, movie, snack, gift certificate to favorite store or restaurant)
5. Fill his/her arms with something to hold or hug. (pillow, stuffed animal, or life-sized snowman) or Fill a stocking with Kleenex, a monogrammed hankie, or a candle…
6. Invest in a cause or person in the name of the lost loved one and let the family know you did. (Angel Tree, Adopt a family, Operation Christmas Child,) Drop a note or wrap a gift sharing about your experience.
7. Give him/her a personalized Bible and highlight every verse on Hope or JOY
8. Cemetery Surprise! Surprise the grieving person by leaving a card, gift or holiday rug to sit on at the grave OR offer your presence and offer to take the person to the cemetery and provide coffee or hot chocolate.
9. When words fail, give a holiday hug, silence or your tears.
10. Give a year of hope. Mark your new year calendar and send monthly cards, e-mails, sermons, gifts or provide acts of kindness during the first year of loss.
Kathe Wunnenberg is a hopelifter. She believes God can use anything you offer Him. A place, possession, person, or personal life experience-and transform it into a meaningful resource of hope for someone in need that can be multiplied. Known for her visionary leadership, creativity, and compassion- in-action lifestyle, Kathe is a communicator and connector who loves to offer biblical solutions and practical resources for real-life problems.
God has sustained her through numerous life challenges including infertility, miscarriages, adoption, carrying a child with a fatal birth defect, the loss of her son, starting, leading and leaving a ministry, depression, birthing babies in her forties, and parenting extreme children…yet she allows her hurts to be used to help others.
In 2010 she launched Hopelifters Hope on Wheels, a Christ centered chartered bus day away adventures to encourage hurting and weary women. She also creates and offers specialized retreats for small groups of women. Kathe is the author of four books: Hopelifter: Spreading Hope When Life Hurts, Grieving the Loss of a Loved One, Grieving The Child I Never Knew, and Longing for a Child. She is a consultant, freelance writer, speaker and serves as a trainer for Carol Kent’s, Speak Up Conference. She grew up in a family of entrepreneurs in a rural Missouri town and her favorite childhood pet was a goat. Now Kathe lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, three living sons, and two dogs. You can find her here.
Missed the other Holding onto Christmas Joy Posts?
Post 1: Choose Hope this Christmas with these 13 Gift Options
2: How to Plant Hope in the Hearts of Our Children During the Holidays
3: Seeing Through the Holiday To-Do List
4: 5 Ways to Make the Holidays Less Hectic and More Meaningful
5: How to Experience Life-Changing Joy at Christmas
6: Win One of My Top 10 Christmas Joys
7: 10 Ways to Bring Joy to Someone Who is Grieving
8: Finding Joy in the Hard Places
9: A Prayer for Joy