Dearest Rose, I am so sorry you are struggling this Christmas time. If commercial happiness feels too forced and painful because of grief or depression, focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas: Jesus. Today I’m sharing seven ways to manage Christmas when you’re going through a difficult time.
Dig Into The Bible
Reading the Bible is a great source of comfort. It allows us to seek God and focus on Him. Dive into the Gospel, the Christmas story (Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2), or the Easter story – the reason for Christmas (Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John 18-21).
Grieving? Read the story of Jesus mourning Lazarus in John 11, or praying before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46). Dig into John 16:16-33, where Christ addresses the grief the disciples will face, and the joy that will come. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is also comforting.
Feeling down? Get into the Psalms. Psalm 40 reminds us that we can trust in the Lord for comfort and assurance. In Psalm 31, David pours his heart out to God as he goes through a difficult time. In Psalm 34:17-22 (NIV), David reminds us “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. You can also read of David feeling down in Psalms 42 and 43.
Listen to Christ-Centered Carols (especially gentle ones)
You know the ones: Away in A Manger, Silent Night, O Holy Night. They bring peace and truth, and connect us to Christmas and Jesus. What an ideal way to gently ease into the true Christmas meaning without having to be excited and happy in a way that may feel inappropriate to your situation.
Grieve and Rest
Your grief might be so raw that you need to skip festivities all together. This is a valid option, too. Remember, Jesus is with you in your hardship. Hold on, dear friend. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Or maybe you feel down and need to sit with that rather than pushing through Christmas activities. It’s ok to take a break. After all, Who created rest? Who created the Sabbath?
God did. We have limited energy, strength, and emotional and mental capacity. How can we continue without running out of fuel if we rarely stop to rest our bodies and minds? When we’re pushed to our limits by whatever we’re facing, we’re going to need rest even more.
Give Yourself Grace
Maybe we need to decrease the pressure to have a perfect Christmas. Lessen the demand of unbought gifts by shopping early, late, or not at all. Find simpler options like online vouchers or orders, or make something small.
Are the constant events too overwhelming? Handpick less to attend. This will increase your energy and emotional capacity for the events you choose.
Take a break when you’re exhausted and overwhelmed. Ask for help and see how others can support you. If you need, reach out to a local church with food banks, Christmas hampers, or meal rosters. It’s ok for things to be imperfect, or even chaotic. You’re doing the best you can.
Do Something That Brings You Joy
What brings you joy under normal circumstances? Can you give that a try?
Perhaps you enjoy baking, or making Christmas crafts and cards. Perhaps it’s reading, board games, or looking at Christmas lights. Maybe making, buying, or wrapping presents is joyful and not stressful for you.
Pick one small, manageable thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Be present and see what you can do. You’re allowed to feel sad or down as you do these things. This isn’t about forcing happiness, rather finding joy in something small that you can handle. This can help you cope, if it’s appropriate to where you’re at.
If you try this and find it’s too hard at this time, that’s ok! Focus on Jesus. Be gentle with yourself and let yourself grieve.
Reach Out to the Ones You Love
Especially the ones who point you to Christ and remind you of His truth and love. Get together with friends or family to pray or dive into God’s Word.
If you’re depressed or feeling down, try not to isolate yourself. That’s where we get tangled in our thoughts. Reaching out to your loved ones can help you stay untangled. You could go to carols together, ring and chat, or hang out at home. If a message is all you can manage, do it, because reaching out is so important. If you’re away from family, use video calls.
Whether your grief is new, or it’s your tenth Christmas without someone, reach out to loved ones who also lost this person. Ring them, go for a coffee, or get together to grieve. Alternatively, meet with a friend who is good at sitting by you in sad times.
If you’re alone in this situation, connect with someone who’s gone through something similar. There are support networks for people grieving or experiencing specific things. The Internet, an expert, or a person with similar experiences can help you find one.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
Lay all your burdens (your grief, your depression, your feelings) before the Lord.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
In fact, let’s pray together now.
Dear God, this Christmas time is really tough for me. These feelings and this loss are too much for me to bear. I lay them at Your feet and ask You to comfort and strengthen me. Please be with me and draw me in to You as I go through this difficult time. Thank You for sending Your Son (the reason for Christmas) so that I could be saved from my sins and know Your love for me.
In Jesus’s name,
Have a very merry and blessed Christmas, Roses, with love from all the staff here at The Wilting Rose Project. Or, if it’s not a happy one, I pray that it’d be full of peace, love, and connection to Christ.
What festive activities bring you joy when you’re
grieving, depressed, or feeling down at Christmas?
Comment below, Roses, and let’s uplift each other!
Jasmine Godby is an Aussie on a mission to point others to Christ. When she’s not writing for TWRP or playing netball, she’s exploring fantasy lands and defending kingdoms (that totally isn’t code for novel writing…). Her story The Three Big Bad Wolves is in the book Once Upon a Whoops: Fractured Fairytales and Ridiculous Rhymes. You can find Jasmine on Instagram here!
December 20th, 2019
January 6th, 2021