Although the season of Christmas often brings with it lights, jolly singing, and bright Christmas trees, it is not always a joyful season for all of us. Whether this is the first holiday after a loss, or the fifteenth holiday, each offers new difficulties and challenges. But, despite the grief, the Incarnation and Nativity is a light in our own darkness, too.
I’m so sorry for your loss. As the grieving process progresses, there are so many ‘firsts’ that we have to go through. The first birthday, the first wedding anniversary, and then the first Christmas.
Know that you are not alone. In times of grief, remember that you are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have suffered through loss as well. One of my favorite saints to turn to in times of suffering is St. John of the Cross. A Caremelite, he writes a poem about the ‘Dark Night of the Soul,’ the experience a person goes through when he or she does not sense Christ as close we would like. But sometimes, the way Christ enters our heart is by breaking it.
This Christmas season, find comfort in St. John of the Crosses’s writing. In this Dark Night of the Soul, God is lovingly working on our souls to call us closer to His heart.
1. “The endurance of darkness is the preparation for great light.”
2. “In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.”
3. “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he’s traveling on, then he must close his eyes and travel in the dark.”
4. “God has to work in the soul in secret and in darkness because if we fully knew what was happening, and what Mystery, transformation, God and Grace will eventually ask of us, we would either try to take charge or stop the whole process.”
5. “O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved!”
This Christmas, it is okay to give yourself permission to cry. Yet realize that, thanks to the beautiful gift of a child in a manger, and the gift of his death on the Cross, we have reason to hope. This dark night will not last forever. He is with us.