What Happens After Christmas

By: Mauryeen O'Brien
Monday, November 9, 2015

Sister Mauryeen O'Brien explains how we can adapt to life after the death of a loved one and how we can face the cold world of winter after the Holidays are over. Here's an excerpt from here story:

“What happens after Christmas?” We can begin to listen to those around us who are eager to reach out and help us begin our healing process. We can match our pace to that of the nature that surrounds us: quiet, restful, not rushed, waiting expectantly for a sign of growth and beauty. “What happens after Christmas?” We can take the time to once again “know that He is God…” He has the capacity to allow nature to not only survive winter after winter but to grow from the cold and dreary months. Has He not also the capacity to do the same for us who are indeed His most precious children?

By Mauryeen O’Brien

“I spent a lot of energy anticipating and dreading the holidays,” Chris told me over the phone one evening last week.

“I pushed myself to be with people, even though I didn’t want to be. I even shopped for presents and decorated the house as I had always done before Jim died. I guess it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, although I have to tell you it wasn’t great. But now I’m wondering what happens after Christmas? What happens to me now that there aren’t a lot of people visiting me, and distractions and running around are much less? What happens now that I’ve worn myself out physically and emotionally trying to cope with the pain of my first Christmas without Jim? How can I get through these next few months?

Chris’s questions are very familiar to those going through “separation pain” due o the loss of a loved one in death. There are may like Chris who have kept themselves overly-busy, running from store to store, or house to house, stuffing down old memories, traditions and expectations. They now find that once the holidays are over they are tired, nervous, distraught and fearful of the long winter months ahead of them.

We certainly can’t change the nature of the winter that is upon us. No matter what we do there will be days with fewer hours of sunlight. It will be cold, and snow and ice may well keep us inside a little more than we would like. That all can’t be changed. But what do we have complete control to change—what we can do—is to “slow down” in mind and in body and give ourselves some time to heal from the pain of loss.

In a sense, winter is in itself slow time. Life seems to have come to a halt for a while; trees are bare, new life is dormant under the earth that is covered with snow. There is a quiet that hangs in the air. It can be in the quietness, in this slow-paced expectancy of a spring that will eventually come, that we can begin to open ourselves to the gentle prodding of perhaps our families or friends or our God. But in order to do that, we must indeed “slow down.”

Chuck Girard, a modern musician and poet has written a beautiful piece of what can happen if we slow ourselves down and listen in the stillness. In part, this is the message of his song:

“…in the time of desperate need...slow down …

and wait on the spirit of the Lord…Hear His voice…and know that He is God.

These winter months can well give us the time and the capacity to “hear His voice.” But we have to make the choice to listen. What He yearns to say to us can be the difference between remaining buried in the snows and cold that loss can bring, or beginning to grow from our experience, so that a spring and summer can happen within us.

We can truly do something with these days after Christmas. They can be slower-paced times in which we can work at our healing and growth. Truly, the healing will never be perfect; there will always be scars; love has the capacity to leave scars. But the scars can produce a growth beyond survival so that winter can truly lead us into spring.

The growing may be difficult; indeed, the grieving was and is. But as nature survives the harsh winter and moves into the freshness of a new spring, we too, can use this time before us to “slow down…and be still” and know that we never travel this winter-journey alone.

“What happens after Christmas?” We can begin to listen to those around us who are eager to reach out and help us begin our healing process. We can match our pace to that of the nature that surrounds us: quiet, restful, not rushed, waiting expectantly for a sign of growth and beauty. “What happens after Christmas?” We can take the time to once again “to know that He is God…” He has the capacity to allow nature to not only survive winter after winter but to grow from the cold and dreary months. Has He not also the capacity to do the same for us who are indeed His most precious children?

Let us take this “after Christmas” time to be still, to listen, and to believe that indeed, winter will melt into spring if we allow it to.

PRINT ARTICLE

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the letters you see in the image.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Holiday Healing

Believe it or not, the holidays are almost here. Very shortly, some of us will prepare a list of things so we can get ready for the season. It may look like this… Christmas cards? Check! Hanukka...

Will I Always Feel This Bad?

When someone you love has died, the holidays are hard. Not only are you grieving the person who has died, but you are also grieving the loss of the holiday and how you shared it wiith that person. ...

What's So Happy About the Holidays?

If someone you love has died, you may be surprised at how you feel about upcoming holidays or special days. Observances that used to be fun-filled may be overshadowed by anxiety, apprehension and s...

Unhappy Holidays

Susan Smith, author and editor, shares interviews with grief experts on how to cope with the holidays after a loved one has died.  She shares ideas for making the holidays easier to face and p...

The Christmas Tablecloth

The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they sa...

Single Bells

Sister Mauryeen O'Brien, grief specialist, shares some coping strategies for single parents as they face the holiday season. She provides simple ideas for keeping the holidays simple. by Maur...

Not Just Another Day

Sherry Williams White, nurse, writer and grief specialist, shares some ideas for handling those special days that you once shared with your loved one. She explains how important it is to trust...

Hope for the Holidays

It’s about this time of the year that holiday decorations appear on the store shelves, radios play seasonal songs and people make plans to be together for those special days. But for many of us, th...

Holidays: A Survival Guide

As if each ordinary day isn’t difficult and painful enough for the bereaved to survive, along comes the holiday season with its warmth and good cheer and its traditions and customs of fam...

Holidays are Hard Days

The holidays are difficult for all of us but when a loved one has died, the emotions of grief and the emotions tied to the holidays can be overwhelming. Susan Smith, editor and writer shares interv...