If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome. If you are facing loss this Christmas season, I am reaching for you with a huge hug. I know it’s hard. I’m so thankful you are here with us today. ~ Suzie
Grieving comes in waves
When we lost Jimmy, we had already grieved for a number of years. We lost this strong, ornery, patriarchal man over time. A memory here. A part of his personality there.
We were fortunate that the parts that remained were the sweeter parts. That’s not always true with Alzheimers. One day we were at a birthday party. He looked over at his wife of nearly 60 years and said, “Do I know you?”
“I’m your wife,” she replied.
His eyebrows shot up. “Seriously,” he said. “Wow, I did good!”
I can laugh at that memory now. I can see the sweetness of a man rediscovering his love of six decades, but at that time my heart was heavy because he didn’t recognize her.
Grieving isn’t a one-time, one-size-fits-all process
However, what I do know is that seasons like this are all the harder when loss is a part of it. I’m thankful that there is room in our relationship with Jesus to mourn.
The image of Jesus weeping brings me comfort. What if there had been someone standing close to him saying, “You should be stronger. Pull yourself up, Jesus. Show some faith!”
Jesus was the epitome of strength, and weeping over a great loss was part of that. He loved much, therefore he grieved just as much over his loss.
That comforts me. I hope it comforts you. If you are grieving this Christmas, I pray that you’ll find comfort, unexpected joy, and that sweet memories will float to the top. I pray that you’ll know every tear is seen by God, and he understands.
Jimmy’s birthday was this week and I vividly remember his last. I’m praying that this year he is looking down at us, his mind restored, his wit intact, but also with the knowledge that “home” was never this short space we have on earth.
We miss him, and we also know that one day we’ll be together again. In the meantime, we have a safe space to mourn our loss and also celebrate his gain. I’m so thankful for that.
Join me over at Instagram today for a giveaway
I’d love to read your comments here today, but I’d also love to connect with you on Instagram. I’m giving away two copies of my Come With Me Devotional: A Year-Long Adventure in Following Jesus.
To enter, just leave a comment here or on today’s Insta-post. ♥ I’ll give away one at each site!
If you liked today’s post, you might also find these helpful.
The Mended Heart: God’s Healing for Your Broken Places by Suzanne Eller
The Mended Heart is a gentle resource that leads to healing for all our broken places.
Thank you for this post. I lost my husband of almost 26 years in February very unexpectedly. This being the first Christmas with out him I am having a very had time getting into the spirit of the season. Ad Christmas is normally one of my favorite seasons of the year. I would also love one of your devotionals. I have wanted one for a while but now with being on a limited fixed income I have no extra to get all my money goes to living expenses for my son and I.
Amy, So sorry for the unexpected loss of your husband. Lifting you and your son up to our Heavenly Father for comfort and peace this Christmas season.
Hi. Thank you for sharing this story.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019!
My mom passed away last December. As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t bad enough she was also diagnosed with end stage stomach cancer. The end was not pretty. I spent many hours with her in the valley of the shadow of death. This Christmas I cannot listen to certain carols as I sat by her bedside playing music, with lit candles, and reading scripture, all the time wondering if she knew I was holding her hand through the suffering and long hours. I know she is with our Lord but the grief catches unaware – at times we least expect it. Thank you for sharing your story, Suzie. Merry Christmas.
Sharon, Lifting you up to our Savior for comfort this Christmas. I am sure your mom was aware, in some way, of the beautiful gift you gave her, in her last days, of music, Scripture and just the simple touch of holding her hand. May your grief be replaced with joy this Christmas in unexpected ways.
Thank you Suzie, In November of 2013 I lost my grandmother, than in 2015, October I lost my dad, two years later, 2017, same day as my dad, my grandma, my dads mom passed away. I praise God every day for the peace I have this time of year – I know where my family is and how they are looking down upon all of us.
I lost my last and only grandmother whom I call Ma’Dear last year she was 94 I thought she would live forever but there came a time when she was not the same name anymore I knew something was different, she even drove a car until she was 92. We miss her dearly. And this year alone there have been so many deaths in my family, my Aunt, an Uncle, my step dad, my sons grandmother, and my cousin. I know they are in a better place now but it is sad to see them leave.
This post is very poignant for me. My husband struggles with memory issues. But is still very much himself a lot of the time. So I treasure this time, not knowing when that could change. Thanks for sharing.
I lost my beloved Father in 2017 to dementia, five years after I lost my Mother. My Dad fell and had a stroke, which brought upon the dementia very quickly. I was blessed to be able to provide the very best care, round the clock to keep him safe. Luckily the journey lasted only nine months, and he retained long term memory. He never forgot who I was, or my name. One of the greatest gifts I received was about six weeks before I lost him. We were at dinner in his nursing home. He ate very little, except for dessert. After he had his pie or cake I would ask him if he wanted ice cream. He would always act surprised, and say ” do we have ice cream?” As I was getting it for him I heard him tell his comfort keeper ” that is my daughter Karen. ” I truly felt the loving guidance of the Lord during those nine months as I faced all of the heartbreaking decisions I dealt with. I had the best team helping me through from the staff at the nursing home, his comfort keepers and his hospice nurse and caregivers. When he received the anointing of the sick sacrament he remembered the words of the Lord’s Prayer and recited along with Father. I know that Jesus was present when he took his last breath. I felt such a presence of peace. His funeral was an amazing tribute to the wonderful man who was the best Man ever. I know that he is in heaven rejoicing with my Mother. And still I feel so sad that he is gone. I can’t call to check on him. I won’t spending Christmas with my Father ever again. He will not see my Grandchildren should my daughter be blessed with a loving husband and children. I know that this is selfish, and that both of my parents would not want me to grieve for them. They always put others first. And I think that because my parents were so good to me is why this is so hard. I am forever thankful for God’s promise of everlasting life.
Karen, Thank you for sharing about your parents and the time you had with your dad. Please do not feel it is selfish to want your father to be able to see and spend time with you, your children and future grand children-it is only natural to want to share such joy with him. Praying you feel your parents presence in memories this Christmas and that they fill you with joy and not sadness.
This you for this. The Mended Heart also looks wonderful! Going he ugh a significant season of grieving right now, and your book of devotional would be so helpful. Have a Bret merry Christmas!
We lost my mom 14 years ago on the 22nd. It was sudden, unexpected and we all had to grieve in our own way. We had melt downs, kept overly busy, worked, or couldn’t work. It is never easy but knowing Jesus’ comfort helped all of us through!
Thank you Suzie for post- I agree that grieving is hardest around the Holidays. So sorry you lost your father-in-law. Sadly, my mom has dementia too and it is very hard. I loved your book, Mended Heart, and highly recommend it to all looking for a book. Thanks again, Jodi
Thank you for this beautiful post. My aunt passed unexpectedly and was like I need you Lord I am hurting. Therefore, your words have been uplifting. Merry Christmas
Lisa, Lifting you up in prayer as you grieve your Aunt. I pray, our God of all peace and comfort, showers you with his love today. May your Christmas be filled with unexpected joy!
This is a timely message. I have a fried experiencing grief this year. I’m going to share. Bless you.
Thank you for these words today. I lost my Dad 2 years ago to Dementia, and this Christmas has been especially hard. Sending hugs to you & your family!
Wow This is beautiful and perfect timing.Thanks for the reminder that “Jesus did wept.” We do keep both of our parents memories alive at Christmas by following the traditions that they made. To all have a blessed and joyful Christmas and New Year.
Ok not facing a loss this year, but I am away from extended family this year for Christmas, and my grandmother just turned 98. Not sure how many more years she will be around
Beautifully written. I lost my husband in March and the holidays have been a struggle. Thanksgiving was spent alone but Christmas my children will be home which will help. My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s and it is tough seeing her get farther and farther fro us. Life here on Earth is very hard.
So sorry for the loss of your husband. Praying your Christmas, with your children, brings unexpected comfort and joy.
I am so glad I was guided to your post. I lost my sister this year. I am so sad for all of the “what could have been” moments. She was my last family member with whom I celebrated Christmas. I know she is without suffering now, but my heart hurts. I pray she knows how much I love and miss her. I pray she is joyful and peaceful. I pray she is enjoying the presence of Jesus as I look to the stars to be reminded that my Emmanuel is with me.
I lost my mom in September. I had been in the waves of grief until closer to Christmas. I am in the thick of it now. God sent this message to me today. Thank you Lord for giving food for my heart and soul. I pray for others that are going through grief or loss as well.
My grief, this Christmas, is a little different. The one I grieve, my sweet 38 year old daughter, is alive and well living in Connecticut but chose to cut me out of her life in 2009. All due to wrong choices I made when she was little but today it is because of her choice to focus on the negative and forget any of the good. Our last Christmas together was Christmas 2008. She later told me she was angry because I only shared about the good times, when she was little, and not the bad, as if it never happened. I know it happened but, like my mom, I choose to think on the good and not the bad. This Christmas marks 10 Christmases without being able to hear her voice. I was doing really well, while the people in my life can’t replace my Alma Rose, God has blessed me richly but last night the grif started to well up. As I was wrapping gifts for 6 boys that have adopted my husband and I as “bonus” grandparents I felt the sadness creeping in. So what am I going to do with this grief-go serve soup at a local ministry and lean into Jesus. He knows my heart, he fights my battles and most of all he is the God of reconcilliation so I know I can trust he is working even when I do not see evidence with my eyes. Provers 3:5-6 Trusting God with all my heart, I am not leaning on my own understanding and I know he will keep my paths straight (and my heart comforted) Thank you, Suzie, for this timely message.
Never give up hope for reconciliation. I don’t know the circumstances but I pray for God to soften her heart and be open. I will pray the Spirit heals your relationships. God bless you.
Thank you, your prayers are greatly appreciated.
My dad at age 90 just passed on Dec 20. Thank you for this beautiful post.
Both of my parents were in hospice care at Christmas time….two years ago and seven years ago. I miss them all the time and particularly at Christmas. 💗
Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas!
My father passed away 4 years ago and it is especially difficult for my mother in coping with this loss, especially during the Christmas season. Spending time with her and simply being present is the most comforting for her.
I would love a copy of your book! Commenting to enter to win!
I so enjoy your blog posts! Thank you for the chance to win your book. Have a Merry Christmas!
My mother had Alzheimer’s and my father was her caretaker until he died suddenly. My mother died 2 years later. Christmas is always a hard time for me now because my kids were fairly young when my dad died, and he used to dress up as Santa on Christmas Eve and visit my kids. My mother used to make the most delicious Christmas Eve dinner. Since they have been gone, I have had to make new traditions with my kids, but it makes me sad that my kids are missing out on having them in their lives.
I pray that those traditions live on in you, Monica. That every sweet gesture and all the love that was planted in you flow out from you to those you love.
My mom passed away 4 yrs ago but my heart breaks for my dad. He is 95 yrs old so lonely & misses her so much. Is totally incontinent w dementia & gets very irritable. My sister is suffering from virus around heart & very tired. Heart breaks for my dad me & my kids took care of him for 4 yrs but now needs 24 hr care.
My mom passed away 4 yrs ago but my heart breaks for my dad. He is 95 yrs old so lonely & misses her so much. Is totally incontinent w dementia & gets very irritable. My sister is suffering from virus around heart & very tired. Heart breaks for my dad me & my kids took care of him for 4 yrs but now needs 24 hr care. Living w my sister.
This is my first Christmas without my husband, since he passed on in January of this year…Thank you for your encouraging post which is so timely for me this festive season.
Repeka, I can’t imagine how hard that is. I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this with us so we can pray with you.
This is our 3nd Christmas without my son. He was killed January 21, 3017. This Christmas is harder than the first
Brenda, So sorry for the loss of your son. Praying God brings you comfort and peace this Christmas.
I’m so sorry, Brenda. Praying that you sense God close all week and beyond into this new year. Reaching for a huge hug.
It has been 8 years since my daddy went to be with Jesus and our lives on this earth changed forever. My mom has been struggling to get through each day and it breaks my heart. On top of it I’ve watched her begin to drift away from us with the onset of dementia and have been witnessing first hand her realization that she is slowly losing her faculties. That, too, is heartbreaking. I cling to Jesus and the promises of the Bible fiercely and this loving post was such a comfort. Thank you so very much for sharing it! I lift you and all those who have shared their stories of grief in the comments before the throne of grace in prayer. May God enfold us all with His strength and peace and carry us through this season which celebrates the wonder of His birth! A hug to each of you
I had a personal ife-changing scare just this week, not knowing if a breast biopsy would come back clean or cancerous. I knew my heavenly father would allow what he felt was best for me and my young family, and nothing touches us that doesn’t first go through His loving hands. Yet it made me think of the legacy I’m leaving and my personal relationship with my saviour, and how it could and should be so much more than it is. I know my struggles and yet find it so hard to pull myself away from them and rest on Jesus in the moments. I’m determined, as my birthday is next Sunday, to start a life of transparency. No more hiding in shame but to stand up and ask for help. No more perfection, but resting in my humanity and God’s perfection in me. I appreciate your openness Susie as it encourages me to just be me and not who everyone expects me to be. Thank you for being you. 😊
Yes agree and no more phoney stuff being real me in Jesus in the next year. A better year for being what my savior Jesus has planned for me and family. I just want to be genuine with all. I love Jesus and serve Him best can and room always for improvement not perfection tried that for many years can never achieve so stopped trying and trusting that Lord knows best. I appreciate your honesty. Thanks
Thank you for this post. My grief this Christmas is not for loved ones who have died, but rather for seeing pictures posted of all of my husband’s family being together in NC, while we are in Texas. Especially since one of our nephews is home from from Japan for the first time in almost 2 years.
I’m sorry, Patti. Comfort this sister’s heart, Father. Step into those places where she hurts and bring comfort and wisdom and hope. In Jesus’ name.
Thank you for this. I especially appreciated this line – “Grieving isn’t a one-time, one-size-fits-all process”. Christmas has become a mostly quiet day for me as I live alone now. My youngest died 2 days before Christmas 1995 and we had his funeral on his 13th birthday. My other two children and all my grands are on the other side of the United States from me; no one to blame but myself, I moved away for complicated reasons, and the hand of God leading. It can be a time of different grieving – the grief of what could be but isn’t, as well as the grief over those one has lost. Thanks be to God, we cannot lose Him, and He will not leave us “orphans,” as Jesus said, “I will come to you…I will never leave or forsake you.”
God bless you, Susan. Only God truly knows the pain in your heart, and I pray that you feel the comfort that only God can provide. And I pray that you feel your son’s love and spirit with you always. Peace to you this Christmas.
Thank you for sharing this story. My nana has dementia, and it is a slow, horrid thing to watch who someone was disappear.
Grandma’s last Easter she called my aunt (her daughter) “mom”. Loss is always hard even when we know we will see them again and they are now better than ever.
My parents died within 18 months of each other about 2 years ago. A special memory is of my dad playing Monopoly with his great grandkids and winning. But putting eyedrops in his eyes upon his request is the most special memory. I miss them so much.
We lost my step-dad last year to leukemia and bone cancer right before Christmas. It happened so fast. He wad diagnosed & a few weeks later, he was gone. This was our first Christmas without him. We had a nice peaceful Christmas but it was different without Papa James. But God will bring us through ALL our trials and yes He will be right there with us, even in our grief.