This past Thanksgiving was our family’s second without my mother-in-law, sixth without two sisters and a brother, and thirteenth without my grandmother. We felt the ache, mourned the loss, and wished with all our hearts they were still with us.
Christmas is coming, and with it a slew of family gatherings. Unless you’ve been unusually fortunate, you’ll have an empty chair or two at your dining room table. It’s unrealistic to think you won’t miss your loved ones, but holidays are for celebrating, not for grieving. As you prepare for Christmas without your precious loved one, here are a few ways you can honor him or her:
1. Do something your loved one would approve of.
My grandmother loved to dig in the dirt and make things grow. Wherever she lived, she always planted dianthus. I remember visiting her shortly after she moved to an independent living facility. She no longer had a place to garden, but as I walked into her new building, I saw evidence of her green thumb. She’d tucked a tiny patch of dianthus into a square of dirt near her doorway. To honor her, one year I planted dianthus in my flowerbed. Every time it bloomed, it reminded me of her.
One friend and his family are facing their first Christmas without their father/grandfather. Knowing that his dad loved Italy, my friend is taking his family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome in his honor.
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Your memorial activity will probably be less extravagant, but it can be equally memorable. One friend honors her daughter’s memory every season by watching her favorite Christmas movie, the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol. Another friend and her family meet at Waffle House at midnight on Christmas Eve to continue a long-standing tradition their late father began.
2. Be sure to include your loved one’s favorite food in your holiday meal.
My mother-in-law and I shared a love for lemon crème pie. She’d often tell the story of how she and a friend of hers liked it so much that they’d buy a pie, draw a line down the middle, and eat every bit of it. My mother-in-law liked her pies extra tart, and if I made the recipe just right, she’d nod her approval. “Mmm,” she’d say, “that’ll lock yer jaws.”
Lemon crème pie was one of the last foods I fed her before she passed away. Confined to a hospital bed and pumped full of medicine, she hadn’t eaten much in days. We wracked our brains trying to think of foods that might stimulate her appetite. My brother-in-law brought her a hot dog from her favorite greasy spoon. I brought a bowl of juicy watermelon. The day I brought her a slice of lemon crème pie, however, was a day to remember.
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“Good?” I asked as I spooned bites into her eager mouth.
“Mmm,” she said, nodding her approval. “That’ll lock yer jaws.”
I ate a piece of lemon crème pie at Thanksgiving in her honor. It wasn’t quite tart enough, but I think she’d still approve.
Like eating my mother-in-law’s lemon pie, “sharing” our loved one’s favorite foods helps us feel connected with them. This Christmas we’ll eat sweet potato casserole to honor my sister Cindy and deep-fried turkey in my brother-in-law Luther’s name. And with every bite of lemon pie, I’ll feel my mother-in-law’s smile.
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3. Donate to an organization, charity, or cause your loved one felt passionate about.
If your mother had a soft spot for children, adopt a Compassion International child in her name. If your father loved baseball, donate a scholarship to a local league to help a needy child play ball next spring. If your aunt had a soft spot for animals, give to a nearby no-kill shelter.
Remember, too, that donations of time are infinitely valuable and honoring to a departed loved one. One friend I know helps serve Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter in memory of her father. Another fills a two-hour slot as a Salvation Army bell-ringer. (For information on volunteering, visit Yet another honors her mother, a former school librarian, by reading to children in an underprivileged school in her city.
4. Talk about your loved one, shed a few tears, but don’t let grief steal the joy from your family celebration.
Remember that the greatest way we can honor a loved one who has passed away is to live every day in thanksgiving and JOY. Reflect on the happy memories. Talk about the fun times and shared experiences. Thank God for the time you had instead of mourning the time you’ve lost.
Holidays can be hard, but with God’s grace and a little intentionality, we can celebrate in ways that honor and include our loved ones, even when they are no longer with us. If you’re facing the holidays without someone special, ask the Lord to wrap you in his love and help you feel the joy of his presence. Take comfort in the promise of Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: December 7, 2016
The loss of a loved one can be one of the most painful parts of life. Grief and mourning come in many different stages and it is easy to let emotion consume you during these difficult times. However, it is important to keep God close to your heart instead of pushing Him away. Remember that you need God now more than ever and He wants you to be happy again despite the loss and heartbreak you may feel.
In addition to losing a loved one yourself, it is also difficult to know how to help someone else who has lost someone close. One way to comfort them is to pray to God that they find peace and comfort in their time of need. With the love and reassurance God can provide, it is possible to ease the pain of those who are hurting. These 10 prayers can help you and your friends or family to cope with the loss of a loved one by asking God to pay close attention to them so they are able to move on.
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“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Heavenly Father, Glory, Glory, Glory and Praise and Honor to Your blessed reign. You are God Almighty and Father to the human race.
We come together with our family members and friends on bended knees and we pray and thank You abundantly for Your blessings this great day.
A day we mark our Lord Jesus’s birth as we thank You for this blessed birth, an amazing Gift You promised mankind through the prophets. A birth that would reconcile mankind to You in eternal life and salvation.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Immanuel, God with us. Click To Tweet
Father, We praise You and we thank You for taking the form of flesh to be with us in the name of Jesus. You made this possible through a virgin called Mary and blessed is she chosen to do Your will on earth.
Isaiah 9:6 –
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Father, we place our heartfelt thanks to You as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
As we enter into the holiest of seasons, let us think back to a much simpler time. A time when, as children, we were taught the story of Lord Jesus’s birth. And, as we grew, we learned of His teachings and ministry throughout the world. Now as adults, we have the ability to pass on Your word and story to our children in order that they will come to love You our God and Lord Jesus as our Savior.
He is the true reason for the season
Help us celebrate Jesus and know that He is the true reason for the season. We pray not to be caught in the beauty and exploitation of world in Lord Jesus’s birth, but to remember the Humble Savior lying in a manger. Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men.
We pray to truly reflect on the reason for His blessed birth. We pray to reflect on our own lives and come in repentance. May our hearts reconcile as we lay our failings at the feet of Lord Jesus and celebrate His mystical birth.
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Christmas Prayer – Loving one another as He Loved Us
We pray to understand His call to love one another as He Loved us. We earnestly pray to close the doors of hate and open the door of love all over the world.
May we reach out to each child with the message of His Love, Mercy and Grace and show them what the true meaning of Christmas is to us all. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. May we take this time to extend our gifts to the poor and the lonely and bring His love to them.
We pray for all those who are not able to be with their families in this joyous season. May we reach those we can and extend the Love and Peace of Lord Jesus.
Deliver us from evil by the blessings which Lord Jesus brings, and teach us to be glad with clear hearts in this season of peace.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving one another and feeling the true love and peace of Lord Jesus with us.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Children of God Click To Tweet
We pray in the blessed name of Jesus, Amen!