What Happens After Christmas
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.