For Those Grieving This Christmas

There isn’t any other season that comes with more pressure to be happy than Christmas.

Posted on

I wish I wasn’t writing this blog post—that I didn’t have the experience to write it.  But I do.  And I have a strong conviction that nothing is wasted in my life—the good or bad.  Even this morning, I pleaded with God to ask someone else to type these words to you.  I’m not an expert—there are far more qualified individuals to compose a message of wisdom to help you navigate loss during the Christmas season.  I was quickly reminded that this is my story.  And there is power when we share our stories.  So I pray Immanuel, God with us, uses my feeble words to encourage your grieving heart.

If you find yourself this Christmas season with an ache in your heart that has left you with a loneliness nothing seems to fill—this post is for you.  Whether this is your first or 50th Christmas without your beloved, or you’re grieving what once was in a relationship, suffering a loss from miscarriage, the death of an ideal, divorce, or anything else that causes your soul to yearn from loss—these words are for you.  Maybe you aren’t in a season of bereavement this year, but know someone who is, I hope this will equip you to better love them this Christmas.

The ache.  It only seems to grow this time of year.  As soon as the wind ushered in the cooler temps, the loneliness took up residence in my broken heart.  While the rest of the world is gearing up for the “Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” I feel stuck in the “Nightmare Before Christmas.”  Kids’ eyes are aglow with the twinkle of trees and lights, while mine are welled up with tears.  The ache grows.  Other families are scheduling their long-standing traditions and I’m trying to hold it together with the sting of the difference one year can bring.  Decorating the Christmas tree with memories that usually fill the room with laughter are replaced with quiet sobs.  The ache grows.  It seems as though the rest of the world is rejoicing and I’m grieving.  Do you feel that ache too—the loneliness that can only come from grieving at Christmas?

You Are Not Alone.  This isn’t meant to be a plea for sympathy or to feel sorry for me, or anyone else who might be feeling loss.  I simply share my raw feelings so you know, my friend, you aren’t alone.  Grief can be isolating.  Too often I find myself thinking, “They just don’t know how I feel.”  And that line I feed myself causes me to isolate.  And in turn, feel alone.  This simply isn’t true for me or you.  When I’ve stepped out and shared my feelings of sadness and loneliness with those around me, I’ve only been met with love and acceptance.  If I may speak into your sadness this season—step out, as scary as it may be, and share your feelings with those trusted relationships around you.  Even those who can’t identify with my circumstances can relate to the universal feelings of sadness and loneliness.  You might just find joy from unexpected people as you show up with the real you…tears and all.

Embrace Sorrow.  There isn’t any other season that comes with more pressure to be happy than Christmas.  The tears that come when you hear your loved one’s favorite carol over the radio—it’s okay.  The movies that once brought a smile to your face but now only feed that ache—that’s okay.  You don’t need to be happy just because you feel like you should be.  A couple of Sundays ago, I was in a mood.  I desperately tried to turn it around.  I wanted to be the happy, go-lucky Erika everyone is accustomed to, but I just couldn’t.  And the more I tried the angrier I became, which spilled over onto those I loved most.  As I confided in one of my dearest friends, I told her of my desperation to be “normal” and not sad.  She quickly responded, “It’s okay for you to be sad.  You should be.”  As simple as that sounds, it was the permission I needed to show up sad or lonely.  I didn’t need to hide behind a theatrical performance.  True joy isn’t the absence of sorrow.  Joy and sorrow can co-exist.  If we want to experience deep joy, we must also experience deep sorrow.  Friend, I want to hand you a tissue and tell you it’s okay to be sad.

Let Your Ache Point You to the Almighty.  This Advent season has brought meaning to the ache.  It’s given voice to this loss that cannot be explained by the vastest of vocabularies.  Advent means coming.  It’s the celebration of what was once promised now fulfilled in Jesus, and what is to come when He returns once again.  My ache reminds me that what I’m experiencing now isn’t the end.  We are once again in a season of waiting.  We are longing for wrongs to be righted, restoration, reunited with our loved ones, even laughter—we ultimately yearn for perfection.  But perfection isn’t attained or found in circumstances, but in a God who is coming back for you and me.  All things will be restored as they were intended.  This ache I feel that I so badly try to numb or escape reminds me of my Almighty who is with me in the grieving.  He is with me until He can dry my tears with His tender hand.  We can find a profound intimacy with God that comes in these times of waiting and grief.  His very name means nearness.

“She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.'” Matthew 1:23 NLT

This ache that I want to be relieved of?  I’m convinced is supposed to be there.  It’s a reminder that our Savior is coming.  It points us to the Almighty who is with us right now in sadness and alleviates the loneliness.  And most of all, this ache points us home.  We’re not living for now.  We’re living for eternity.

This first Christmas without my second dad, I pray these three lessons that grief is teaching me, serve as an encouragement to your weary soul this season.  I pray this Christmas we allow our ache to lead us into deeper intimacy with the Almighty—who is with us even in the midst of grief.



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on

Featured Image by Simon Matzinger

The views and opinions expressed by Kingdom Winds Collective Members, authors, and contributors are their own and do not represent the views of Kingdom Winds LLC.

About the Author

Erika Opperman is a dynamic conference speaker, empowering Bible teacher, and writer. She’s also a local church girl where she’s spent over a decade serving in leadership in the local church. As a communicator at heart, Erika loves nothing more than encouraging anyone who will listen with profound yet practical truths found in God’s Word. Whether it’s in her small group, on a conference platform, or in her local church on a Sunday morning, Erika comes alive in any opportunity she has to share the truth. In her former life she was a theatre nerd where she discovered and developed her passion to communicate. Erika is a girly-girl living in a boys’ world. Her “hubs” as she affectionally refers to her husband, Brian, is the best human she knows. They are raising their little loves, Axel and Max, in the Northland of Kansas City. The Opps are nothing short of wild, fun, and even a bit crazy. They most recently helped plant their church, Discover Church, where Brian serves on staff as the worship pastor. Erika has been known to laugh too loud, perhaps talk too much, and drink copious amounts of coffee. Erika lives life out loud! You can catch Erika in real time on Instagram, Facebook, or at