I think Advent and Grief are two sisters wandering the wide world, two sisters who every year cross paths and decide to walk together for a spell. If you are so brave as to step foot in a shopping mall this time of year, it seems that for every wide-eyed child waiting in a long line to meet Santa, you’ll also find a grown-up wandering the store with empty eyes, someone for whom this season brings thoughts of what-ifs and might-have-beens.
I write this without any pride or malice, simply as a statement of fact: this world has been kind to me. My parents are together and living. Only one of my twenty aunts and uncles has passed away. I have one grandmother remaining, and she is dear to me. My grandfathers both died relatively young, in their late 50s or early 60s.
We grieved through two miscarriages. Yes. There was that. And there have been financial avalanches, but we have not yet been overcome. And yes, we grieved the loss of communities when we moved by choice or by necessity.
But as I get older, I start to recognize the deep grief around me. Parents losing children. Spouses dying far too soon. Cancer. Divorce. ALS. This world can be a dark and shadowy place.
Grief refuses to leave us, even when her sister Advent draws near. And so I am beginning to see how the holiday season can, for some, only serve to magnify the scope of their loss.
This week I’m going to share some special, intimate letters with you. Notes written from people during Advent to those who they have lost. There is a young mother of three who lost her husband in a tragic accident. There are daughters who lost their mothers. A husband who lost his wife.
This is the face of Grief, and we do ourselves no favors if we ignore it. We do our fellow sojourners an injustice when we expect them to put a happy face on so that we can have the all-smiles holiday we’re looking for. Please read these letters and consider reaching out to someone you know, someone who has recently suffered loss, someone who bears the heavy burden of grief. It gets a little heavier this time of year. They need someone to help them carry it.
I think if you do, you’ll both, together, discover a new kind of joy. A new kind of peace.
Did you know I started doing a podcast with Bryan Allain and Caleb Wilde called The Story of My Death? In it we interview people and they tell a story about a loved one who died. Sounds depressing? You should check it out – the stories are beautiful, and the people are strong. You can find it HERE.