I know my daughter. I know she would want me to rest in the truth that we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. (1Thessalonians 4:13)
You know what comforts me about that verse? It doesn’t stop at we don’t grieve. We do grieve. I thank God for recognizing that is part of the way He made us.
The Message is a version that often speaks to me, and that is true in particular with the ending of 1Thessalonians 4:13 “And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word.”
I needed the reminders – that death does not have the last word, that I have a grand reunion to look forward to, and that the rest of my life does not have to be lived in the past. My daughter is not only in my past, because scripture teaches us there IS a future, an eternity – that has already begun. Because of that and May 7, 1967, when Laurie accepted Christ, I am assured that my daughter has that eternal life. She lives, though no longer with me. Yet my daughter is still in my heart and in the present. It is not that I loved her. It is that I love her still though I cannot tell her so.
That lesson – that death does not have the last word aIso reminds me that is what Christmas is really about celebrating Christ – the gift that came to conquer the grave for us. A gift of sacrifice.
We don’t often think of Christmas that way do we – as a celebration of a gift of sacrifice!
And now we are faced with a new thing. A Christmas focused on the future. My emotions tempt me to say no to Christmas because it will not be the same. It. I pause to think of that little word, so important. But what is the “it”? The message – the true sacrifice of Christmas has not changed. The IT that is changed is expectations based on the past. For me it is family being here. This Christmas will be without another precious family member who brought joy to our celebration. Besides Laurie, our grandson, David, and 6 unnamed children and grandchildren (miscarriages) are in heaven. Several grandchildren have flown to their own lives, their own families and their own celebrations at a distance and cannot afford to come home. Those certain to be unfulfilled expectations can be depressing, and experts concur that even without the loss of a loved one, depression and suicide are highest during times of holidays.
I’ll not fake it and say I am not sad. I am terribly sad when I focus on my loss, on my grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s loss. I feel as though I have a hole – a hollow space – in my chest. Friends who have lost a child tell me that never goes away, and I suppose, how could it. A child is a lifetime relationship – and even more, a part of us. And now a part of us is physically absent. Laurie’s joy and positivity will be remembered and honored. That is what she would have done for me.
I encourage you all to remember the sacrificial gift of Christmas by joining me to give two sacrificial gifts – in honor of Christ and in honor of a loved one. It could be a gift of finances or a gift of time. It could be grocery shopping for someone, rounding up all the carts in a store lot, making extra soup and sharing a bowl with someone who lives alone, or spending an hour listening to stories you’ve been told a dozen times before or a gift card. It could be getting eye-ball to eye-ball with a toddler, and entertaining them to give their mom or dad a break, or it could be the privilege to help a single parent low on funds to find a gift for their child, or a book to help them through a lonely Christmas. It can even be anonymous. I am sure you can think of many other ways you can honor the memory of your loved one and bless someone else’s Christmas by remembering the true meaning of Christmas – that Christ came to give us hope and a future.
Strengthen me according to Thy word.
A few links I believe will encourage you: