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How to recover from a painful loss at Christmas

Christmas is suppose to be full of joy, but sometimes it is full of pain. What if I told you that you can recover from a painful loss at Christmas?

It’s Christmas Time!

No matter where you are Christmas is all around you. Trees decorated with the most beautiful lights. Stockings hung by the chimney with care. The smell of Christmas cookies are in the air. If you are anything like me then you the colder weather is exciting you.

In a little while, you will be spending time with family creating beautiful memories. 

The wonderful feelings of joy are all around.

Then I think about who I have lost. My mind drifts back to the pain that came when they left. How the hurt started to build. The pain started to deepen. Now, when everyone is so joyful I am trying to find some way to smile, but my heart is with those that I have lost.

Maybe you are there as well. You have recently lost someone. The pain is all too real, but you try to move on.  You desire to move on, but the anchor of the past keeps you rooted in your current state of mind.

We are all asking the same question:

How do I recover from the pain of Loss at Christmas?

When the pain in our lives is high it is easier to give up. What if I told you that you don't have to give up? Today is your day to live again.

I remember the first Christmas without my grandmother. It was the most painful Christmas that I had experienced in recent memory. Sure, I had lost many who were dear to me. I had not expected the pain of losing my grandmother to be so intense.

It was as if every day that I existed a piece of me died with her passing.

I learned to put a smile on my face, but my heart had broken. I lost a piece of me. My grandmother was everything to me.

I remember the times she would sit and listen to my crazy stories. She would just sit there and smile as I spun my imagination into words.

I remember the food she would cook. I would wake up to the smells of pancakes, bacon, and eggs. During the Christmas season, you could smell the tantalizing aromas of ham and turkey.

Then there were the times of being wrapped in her arms and told that I am loved. 

These memories are sacred. 

Now I sit here, years later, wishing I could have made more memories with her. I wish I could go back in time and tell her the things that I never could. To hold her again would be a dream come true. I want to tell my nanny (That is what we called her) that she was one of the most important people in my life.

But I cannot.

That time is gone.

All I am left with are the memories of times gone by.

Maybe you are going through something similar. You have lost someone you loved and now you are picking up the pieces of a broken heart.

You have your memories of them. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem like enough for you.

Let me share with you this: You don’t have to relive the pain of your past every day.

[bctt tweet=”You don’t have to relive the pain of your past every day. #Christmas #liveagain ” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Your life isn’t a broken CD that is repeating the same section of the same song over and over. It isn’t a motion background set on constant repeat.

[bctt tweet=”life isn’t a broken CD repeating the same song over and over. #stoprepeating” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Your life is something beautiful. It is sacred. Something God (Yes, I am a believer in Jesus) has given you. At some point, you have to make the decision to move on.

[bctt tweet=”At some point you have to make the decision to move on. #wakeup #liveon” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Right now you may think that if you move on you are somehow violated their memory. That you’re somehow disappointing them when you are happy.

That is foolish belief.

You have not violated their memories. As a matter of fact, learning to live again may be the thing that most honors their memories!!!

You are meant to be happy. You will be happy again.

Let me give you 3 things that have helped me move on and learn to live again.

So the question is:

How do I recover from the pain of Loss at Christmas?

If Christmas is suppose to be so joyful why do I feel so sad? Mabey, just maybe, you are still struggling with the pain of loss this Christmas. It is time to recover your life.

  1. Remember The Past

We tend to remember the traumatic experience of loss more than the years of life we had without loved ones. That somehow that one experience erased a lifetime of good memories.

Every time I thought about my grandfather I thought about the way I lost him. I watched him choke on dinner and then taken out on a stretcher. I never saw him alive again. That memory is burning into my mind. I was 10 years old. It was traumatic.

People live on in our memories. They may not be alive anymore, but when I remember them and what they meant to me they continue to live on.

[bctt tweet=”As long as we remember those that we have lost they will continue to live on. #remember #lovedones” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

Practically, there are some things we can do:

  a. Face the Pain.

Right now you have an option.  You can run from the pain by ignoring it or you can face it. Facing the pain is inevitable. One day you will have to face the pain or be destroyed by it. Now is the time to decide to face it and move on.

b. Acknowledge the loss.

One of the worst things we can do is to ignore the pain. To ignore the pain is to ultimately lose our joy in the midst of our unhealed hurts. What happened sucked. It was painful. Take a moment and just acknowledge that it was a terrible time and move on.

c. Change your thought habit.

When something powerful happens, on an emotional level, we tend to remember that.  We will think about it over and over. Eventually, it becomes all we think about. To move on we have to force a change in habit.  We must force ourselves to focus on all the good that the person brought to our lives. We must stop focusing on the one event that has caused our life to stop in our tracks.

[bctt tweet=”Remember the past, but don’t live in the past. #moveon #livetoday #giftoftoday” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

2.  Live in present 

Acknowledge the pain of loss, but realize you still have to live on.

Life hasn’t stopped.

As a matter of fact, life will wait for no one. You still have a life to live. So live it well.

I am at a point in my life that when I think of the ones I lost I smile. Why? Because I let go of the pain (That took a while). I learned something very important.

Connect to the impact they made.

Do not focus on the tragedy.

It is time to make new memories. There are so many wonderful things happening in your life. Don’t let this one event (or many events) stall you to the point that you don’t live anymore.

You don’t have to let the old memories go you can add on to them with your new ones.

[bctt tweet=”start collecting moments and changing them into memories. #memories ” username=”jim_Burgoon”]

3.  Look to future 

You have a lot of living to do. 

Realize that they want you to live on. I think this brings me the most comfort.

Knowing that I can live a life that is full of happiness and joy while honoring the impact that they left.

Draw hope from the tomorrows you have yet to explore.

Live your Life!!!

Let me ask you a question:

Where are you in the process of moving on? What can you share that could help someone move on in their struggle?

Share and help someone through their challenges!

About the Author Jim

  • I have also lost my grandmother nearly two years ago. When she passed, I didn’t want to think about anything not only because she passed at the worst time possible for a college student, but also because I never realized how much she truly meant to me until she was gone. It was painful to experience the first of birthdays and holidays without her, especially Christmas, and I have memories of her during Christmas with family dinners and how she would always be cooking for my family.

    • Jim says:

      It was the darkest period of my life. My grandmom was everything to me. I think I stayed in that place for a few years. Then I started coming out of it. Now I can say that I am on the path of healing. Life isn’t the same without her, but I know the legacy she left in me. I will pray for you and your healing process! Thank you for sharing. I believe times of sharing and vulnerability are sacred. Thank you for being real!

  • Angela Key Milnes says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but you are so brave to share this with us and thanks for the tips.

    • Jim says:

      My heart, and the heart of this blog, is to be transparent with people so that they can find healing in their lives. I want nothing more to help people through their pain. This allows me to leverage what I have been through for good. 🙂 Even though it can be difficult I will still share if I know it will help 1 person. That is a win win… !!

  • GiGi Eats says:

    Living in the present is something people just don’t know how to do. They either live in the past and let that dictate the now or they live in the future and stress themselves out with WHAT IFs.

    • Jim says:

      So many good points here! Thank you for sharing them! I completely agree. We spend out lives either look over our shoulder or laser focused ahead of us. This means we so often miss what is around us!

  • Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s never easy to lose a loved one especially during this season. I definitely feel your pain and it’s something that we’ve all experienced in our lives. We just have to learn how to cope even if it’s difficult!

    • Jim says:

      I have found that the greatest victories come from the most challenging times. I want to say that I am finding victory in the struggle! I pray you are as well! 🙂

  • These are great tips for anyone going through the same situation. I am so sorry for your loss ??

  • Rosey says:

    We do really remember things that hit us at a powerful emotional level. That is true whether it is good or bad.

  • I really needed this type of post. it was the perfect topic for this time of the year!

    Isaly Holland

  • Angela Zimsky says:

    Losing a loved one is never easy.

  • Ellie says:

    Such a beautifully written post. I remember losing a Family member in December some years back and it was incredibly sad to see the Family at the Christmas season and be surrounded by all the festivities but we have to remember the good times and the wonderful memories that we have with those people.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for your kind words! Also, thank you for joining the conversation! Losing someone can be incredibly challenging for years. I think with the right attitude, time, relationships (Including Jesus), and prayer that you can change an unfavorable situation into something beautiful.

  • Wren says:

    I think these are great ways that could help someone over the holidays. Everyone has their ways of dealing and some are not always the best. Losing my son years ago made Christmas really hard, and this is the first year my Grammy will be gone. She was like a mother to me, and it makes it very difficult and raw because she has only been gone a few months. I find it hard to get in the spirit, but I try for my daughters. We talk about who we have lost and remember them over the holidays. We also buy ornaments to put on the tree that remind us of them. Just because they are gone, does not mean they can not be included in the festivities. Including them is one way that helps me through the holidays.

    • Jim says:

      Thank you for joining the conversation! I love how heart felt your words are. You are so right, “Just because they are gone does not mean that they cannot be included in the festivities.” That is an incredibly powerful statement. Thank you so much for sharing. I will be saying a prayer for you and your family.

  • I lost my Great Aunt a few years ago, on this day actually… it was a painful christmas. I couldn’t even bring myself to go home for the holidays.

    • Jim says:

      It is a tough place to be. I think that may be one of the reasons I moved away from my hometown. I am saying a prayer for you!! Thank you for the comment.

  • Jim, I feel your pain and I appreciate your very practical advice for those who are hurting this Christmas. Last year I lost my dad and just recently lost my brother so it’s been a difficult time for sure. I love the idea of moving on from the painful endpoint of their lives and focusing instead on the impact they made. That really helps me to reframe things and look to the future. My faith in God has already been helping me through this and I’m excited to try your suggestions.
    Blessings to you and yours for the Christmas season.

  • Kimberly c. says:

    What a beneficial post. I know that time and faith can heal a lot of wounds but it’s the missing part that’s makes it so difficult. I take comfort in knowing that eventually we will all be together again.

    • Jim says:

      So much truth! With faith and the right amount of time we can find healing. Missing them never seems to get easier. One thing that I have experienced is that I become stronger each day thats goes by. I don’t forget their impact or their memory, but I learn to live my life to the fullest knowing that we will be together again. Great thought! Thank you Kimberly for joining the conversation.

  • Thank you for this post. This will be the first Christmas without my sister. She died of leukemia last March, and no one in the family has recovered completely from this loss. But I’m looking toward the future, so I’m determined to have the best Christmas possible for me and my kids. My sister would’ve liked that.

    • Jim says:

      In your words I read so much determination. That inspires me to press on in my own life! Thank you for that. It isn’t easy losing anyone. The pain seems worse when the relationship is so much closer (Brother, sister, and so forth). Often times, it takes longer to heal. This year can be the best Christmas, because you still hold onto her memory and can help share the impact she made. Thank you for joining the conversation!

  • Experiencing loss is traumatic any time of the year, however I lost my mom before Christmas and that has marked my life forever since many changes occurred after that. It is so difficult to recover from such difficult time but I have managed.

    • Jim says:

      I am so blessed to hear that you have been on the path to recovery! I have lost 2 very important people to me and Christmas always seems to be a struggle. Every year that passes I seem to be better and better. I will be sending a prayer up for you that God would continue to help you heal.

  • Amen. We aren’t simply forgetting the ones we’ve lost by not being sad we are holding them in our memories and creating new ones.

  • Se manifique! such brilliant wisdom & insight shared. So deep & thought provoking. I haven’t lost some during the festive season but i have lost and these tips are on point to deal with it.

  • Amber Myers says:

    This would be hard. My husband’s mother is currently in the hospital and we’re hoping everything goes okay with her. She’ll be in our thoughts during the holiday season for sure.

    • Jim says:

      I am going to be praying for you and the situation that you are finding yourself in. It is never easy when the holidays are here and you find your loved ones in the hospital. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Chloe says:

    We get so caught up in the celebrations of Christmas that we forget that some people are suffering from painful memories. I think everyone should read this for Christmas.

  • Gina Monticello Coulter says:

    Thank you for this. Perfect timing and right on my thoughts exactly after just losing my Dad, as well as his mom and Dad and my father in law all in the past four years. I’ve surely faced death head on and thank God, I know God because some days I wonder how I have such peace in the storm. Only God. Merry ?

    • Jim says:

      I am blessed to hear that this spoke to you! Christmas can be a tough time, but we can definitely make the most of it and experience joy again!

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