Christmas for the Brokenhearted
‘Lay a whisper on my pillow,
leave the winter on the ground.
I wake up lonely, there’s air of silence
in the bedroom and all around.’
I recall a song that was released when I was not even ten. Performed by Roxette, ‘It must have been love’ was also known by the title ‘Christmas for the Brokenhearted.’ This popular song was essentially about mourning the loss of a loved one. And the brokenhearted are everywhere at Christmastime – folks for whom the cheer and celebration of Christmas only serves to rub salt into the wounds they carry. We may know family and friends who have been bereaved this year or even this month. Or perhaps they knew a loss or bereavement many years ago, for grief knows no timeframe.
There are folks for whom serious illness, divorce or death has characterized their year. There may be the empty chair at the Christmas table, and you wonder how you are going to get through the holiday season without falling apart. There are folks whose family tree feels fragmented, broken or messy. And there are those who long for a child, and spending Christmas around other family members with children only heightens the heartache of hope deferred.
Perhaps you haven’t experienced a major loss or trauma, but the stress of the ‘silly season’ exacerbates a physical or mental illness. Perhaps finances may be stretched, or perhaps Christmas in the age of Pinterest just makes you feel exhausted. What do you do if you just can’t make a joyful sound at Christmas? Where is the hope when your heart is hurting at Christmas?
For the brokenhearted, sometimes it is the anticipation of Christmas (or a wedding or any other special occasion) that is worse than the actual day itself.
Taking care of oneself around Christmastime and the holidays is imperative. If you are grieving, allow yourself to grieve. For some reason, the textbooks and society seem to advocate that people should move on from grief within the timeframe of a year. But many of us know that it may take longer than that. Having realistic expectations is important too.
And if you are a friend or family member of someone who is grieving, offer them support, love, and concrete assistance (such as help with housework, childcare or gardening). We can call someone, even if we don’t know what to say. We can carefully select a Christmas card, and we can choose not to send a newsletter filled with joyous news, because sometimes our well meaning words can drive a knife into the heart of someone who is bereaved or hurting.
We can invite those who are alone at Christmas to join us. We can listen to their stories and feelings, therefore validating their grief as a normal response. We can understand that even though there is a clinical term called ‘complicated grief’, in real life, all grief can be complicated. And we can introduce them to the God who came to heal the brokenhearted, to bind up their wounds and cure their pains and sorrows (Isaiah 61:1). The babe that was born in the lowly stable is acquainted with our sorrows and trials. He is the wonderful counsellor, the everlasting father, the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Whether it is healing from estrangement, rejection, loss, unforgiveness or betrayal – God is in the business of heart transplantation. He longs to bring comfort and His word says that He will ‘give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you’ (Ezekiel 26:26).
‘God takes broken hearts —- and gives you His’. Isn’t that the miracle that all began because of Christmas.
If you are feeling alone this Christmas, I pray that this beautiful song ministers His comfort to you.
Photo Credit: http://www.aholyexperience.com