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The holidays are here! Well actually, they show up almost every month on the calendar. The biggies, however, are those right around the corner, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and ringing in the New Year. For most of us, these special times used to be celebrated and anticipated with great delight. But now that your husband is gone, they attempt to rob you of joy and whisper the lie that life will never be good again. Even though grief invites itself to your holidays, it doesn’t get to steal the joy that will eventually return, even if it looks different.

Do’s and Don’ts to consider as these tender days approach

Don’ts

  1. Don’t expect others to understand or meet your needs.
  2. Don’t compare grief. Everyone will grieve the loss of a loved one differently. 
  3. Don’t play into the enemy’s hand – drama loves to invite itself as an unwelcome guest.
  4. Don’t isolate but give yourself permission to be excused if a moment of grief overtakes you.
  5. Don’t make grief an idol. Of course, during the first two years, grief will be your constant companion; however, in time, we must be careful that it doesn’t become our identity.

Do’s

  1. Do know it won’t always hurt this bad.
  2. Anticipate with intentionality – as much as you can, be intentional with your plans, establish boundaries if necessary, and plan for flexibility.
  3. Give yourself something to look forward to – this might be as simple as a cup of tea and time with the Lord.
  4. Find a trusted companion, another widow, who understands. 
  5. Expect triggers. All the senses are filled with an extra tenderness during this time. The sights, sounds, smells, savory tastes, and touch (or absence of) often surprise us when we least expect it. This is normal and okay. Give yourself permission to grieve the loss.
  6. Serve others and look beyond yourself and your sorrow. You will be amazed at the wondrous healing that will come through a simple act of kindness. 
  7. Cling to verses of truth.
  8. Remember God’s faithfulness.

Remembering is an important antidote for anticipating the holidays when life is hard:

  • “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
  • “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done” (Psalm 78:4-6).
  • “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

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