Opinion Column

Walk on with hope in your heart

By Rev. Eric Strachan

Often you wonder why tears come into your eyes, and burdens seem to be much more than you can stand; But God is standing near He sees your falling tears, tears are a language God understands. “TEARS ARE A LANGUAGE” by Amy Lambert

Quite a few of my friends lost a loved one this past year, and as we continue to move through the Christmas season of 2017 I’m wondering how they’re doing. For some of them it was their spouse, for others their mom or dad, for others still, a sibling or a son or daughter.

Maybe you who are reading this today have had the same experience; you’ve lost someone you loved dearly within the last year and today you’re facing the daily challenge of walking through this festive season while still trying to deal with a residue of grief in your heart. It’s not easy is it? Everywhere you go the sights and the sounds of the season are there before you, staring you in the face and echoing in your ears. When you meet people in the mall the traditional parting words are “Have a Merry Christmas”, and while you listen to the inescapable mall music ring out “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” it’s virtually impossible for you to sing along with the lyrics for this is the very first Christmas without the one you loved.

The question is, and it’s such a relevant one, how do you get through this season while still trying to cope with the grief of loss that at times is so real and tangible? Let me say first of all that there’s no quick-fix formula for situations like this, but there are some time-tested principles that when embraced and applied will enable you see your way through the season.

What are they? Well first of all, you will get through the days ahead, I guarantee it. Maybe you’re dreading them, maybe it seems like an eternity between now and the New Year 2018, but make no mistake about it, you will get through these days. Now what you need to do is to keep telling yourself that, “I will get through this.” If you have to tell yourself that everyday that’s okay, but keep doing it!

Secondly, there may be moments during this season when in the context of company, or at a family gathering, or at a party, when your grief surfaces and you cannot restrain it, and the tears begin to flow. If that happens don’t think for a moment you’re spoiling the party, you’re not! And don’t apologize for your tears! If you have to withdraw from company for a moment to compose yourself, do so, your family and friends will understand completely.

Thirdly, I don’t know if you’re a ‘hugger’ or not, but in these emotional moments when the grief of loss suddenly surfaces and you feel the desperate blight of loneliness and insecurity, ask someone close to you to give you a hug. Oftentimes it’s the secure grasps of a family member or friend’s arms that tells me “It will be okay!”

Fourthly, avoid the tendency to isolate yourself from people during the season. Sometimes this is how many of us are inclined to act in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one, particularly at this time of year, we say to ourselves “I just want to be alone!” Such isolation for many of us has all the potential to take us deeper into the pit of despair. People need people, particularly when we’ve experienced loss. In your circle of friends I’m believing that there will be those who are close to you, with tender hearts, listening ears, and comforting words of re-assurance that will give you hope!

Fifthly, start a tradition. Send a gift to a humanitarian agency in memory of your loved one. Preserve their memory, and keep it alive! Do this annually. You’d be surprised how wonderfully therapeutic it is for you in the aftermath of your loss to reach out and touch the lives of those in need.

Finally, and I’ve kept the best to last, I want to say to you, please remember this, there is a Father in heaven who cares for you, who deeply loves you, and has seen every tear that has fallen from your eyes, every single one! Let Him walk with you through your bereavement during this Christmas season, open up your life to Him and let Him come in and touch you, comfort you, and wrap His arms of love around you. He cares for you, He really does! It was Amy Lambert who wrote the poignant words of the song “Tears Are A Language God Understands.” Listen to what she said. “When grief has left you low, it causes tears to flow, And things have not turned out the way you planned, But God won’t forget you, His promises are true, Tears are a language God understands.” This Christmas season my dear friend, remember that, trust in Him and let Him walk with you every single step of the way, walk on with hope in your heart, and I guarantee you…you’ll never walk alone! 

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