Loss Of A Parent: 10 Great Tips For Surviving The Holidays
Are you dealing with a loss of a parent this holiday season? It’s never easy to lose anyone you love, right? That said, however, the loss of a mother is extremely hard to put into words, trust me, I know this because my Mama passed on to glory on August 19, 2021
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As you may know, we’re doing a series titled…How He Heals: A Grief and Loss Collaboration that will run for several months from various contributors. Since losing my Mama so recently I knew writing this post would be too much for me.
So, I asked my dear friend and famous Christian Author, JoAnn Durgin to write about the loss of a parent for me and she graciously agreed to do so. Enjoy Her beautiful heart-filled post on the loss of a parent.
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How to find hope for the Holidays After The Loss Of A Parent?
Navigating the Christmas season under “normal” circumstances can be a challenge. Although festive and joyful, the holidays overflow with nostalgia, family gatherings, and making new memories.
The busyness of those hectic weeks in December can be fraught with tension and expectations.
Cling to the Joy of Christ after the loss of a parent
If you add the loss of a parent into the mix—whether the loss is recent or even years ago—the tiniest reminder of your loved one can trigger an avalanche of unexpected emotions.
But take heart—there’s hope in our risen Savior to help you get through these times!
Whether or not they play an active role in our “growing up” years, a parent usually plays a key role in shaping our lives. Ideally, they comfort us when we hurt, and they help us work through all those confusing growing-up issues.
Acknowledge dealing with a death of a parent isn’t a quick fix
So, when we lose a parent to death, it can be heart-wrenching and even physically painful because we now have a huge void in our life that was once filled by someone we loved dearly.
Our God delights in comforting the afflicted, and He cares about you intimately! The God of Creation knows us better than we know ourselves.
God knows the very number of hairs on our heads! Isn’t that absolutely amazing? As such, He understands our pain, and He’s eager to grow us, heal us, and give us His peace.
God tells us in His Word…
For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
Do a Tribute for a Mother to honor her memory
May I also propose that joy also comes in mourning? Let me illustrate by telling you a little about my Mama.
My parents divorced when I was barely older than a toddler. In our small Indiana town, divorce was not common.
I didn’t realize until much later the whispers and gossip my mother must have endured (my father lived in a nearby town, but my mother was the primary caregiver for my older brother and me).
Her name was Marilyn, and with her petite stature, raven hair, and fire-engine red lipstick, she was a force with which to be reckoned.
She was a strong, independent, single parent who spoke her mind yet understood the art of tempering her words with grace.
Intelligent, well-read, and educated, my mother operated a private kindergarten for years.
She was also a part-time travel agent and handled the flight and hotel arrangements for prominent local citizens.
She also wrapped gifts with the most exquisite flowers, bows, and embellishments I’ve ever seen.
For our birthdays, Mama made our chosen meal each year and topped it off with a cake from our favorite bakery.
On many nights, I drifted into dreamland while listening to Johnny Mathis. Whenever I hear his Christmas songs now, and any song she loved, I smile.
My mother would roll down the windows of her old Buick Skylark and sing her heart out (thank the Lord she had a nice voice!).
Before the invention of the GPS, she’d haul out the map and take us on short road trips to discover every covered bridge in neighboring states—her “little gems” as she called them. As I recall, we only got lost twice.
Cooking wasn’t her “thing,” but she made sure we had a hot meal and sat down at the supper table together every night. She’d drive me to the store on Fridays so I could buy three Nancy Drew books with my weekly allowance.
Mama asked the Lord to be her personal Savior at an early age. The woman radiated compassion to the point where it nearly oozed from her pores.
She epitomized the idea of “putting her money where her mouth was.” Perhaps most importantly, if anyone needed anything and called upon her, she’d literally drop everything to be at their side.
I know this because she did it numerous times for me and countless others.
Without her support, I probably wouldn’t have gone away to college (I was so homesick). Or to Europe for a semester (she came to visit). Or moved to Dallas, Texas, after college without knowing a sou (somewhere along the way, I developed my own spirit of independence). Frankly, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without my mother.
After a life well lived, my sweet Mama passed into the arms of Jesus in mid-July 2019. She was more than ready to begin her new journey in eternal life in heaven.
Although I knew Mama could pass at any moment, I still wasn’t prepared to receive the call. No matter how prepared you think you are for the passing of a loved one, you’re not.
Model their legacy for future generations
In her own way, my mother prepared me for her leaving this earth by modeling a legacy that’s helped me move on with grace and dignity. It’s a lasting legacy of love she left with me to pass on to my children and grandchildren.
One of my mother’s favorite things was going to the beach and collecting seashells. As I walked the beach in South Carolina two months after Mama’s passing—on a beach of mostly broken shells—I noticed something shiny nestled in the sand.
I gasped in delight to discover it was a beautiful, perfectly formed olive shell. I curled it in my palm as tears of pure joy slipped down my cheeks.
I often hold that shell and praise the Lord for the blessing of a godly mother. I know God intended for me to find that shell, and it was one of His ways of letting me know she’s okay and in His care now. What a huge comfort that is!
Tips on the loss of a parent
Below are some suggestions and guidance for getting through the holiday seasons with hope and encouragement.
Give yourself permission to grieve and cry
Our Savior wept after the death of his beloved friend, Lazarus. Tears are a natural expression of our grief and cleansing for the heart and soul.
Sometimes a good cry is exactly what we need, so don’t hesitate! If you’re opening a box of holiday ornaments and see one that spurs on a memory, grab that box of tissues, and let them flow!
Carry on the traditions of your loved ones
Bake your family’s favorite cookies or holiday foods. Wrap gifts together, play games, watch holiday movies or anything else that brings happy memories to cherish while creating new traditions.
By doing so, you’re moving the family forward into the next generation while still honoring their memory.
Never forget that death, like birth, is part of God’s ultimate plan for us
Life is a gift, but it’s only the beginning. Death is a natural, expected ending to our life here on earth before we begin our eternal life in heaven.
remember death isn’t the end for followers of Jesus
If you and your parent are believers, you can take comfort that your relationship doesn’t end at death.
We can rest in the promise of a glorious reunion in heaven. You can be confident that your loved one is now with Christ and experiencing His joy in an incorruptible body!
While losing a parent can be especially difficult if we’re uncertain of our parent’s salvation, we can still cling to the promises of God and always seek Him for comfort.
in Christ, know that God makes things new
Look forward to the time when all things shall be made new.
Trust that God is just and good. Because He’s all that—and so much more!
God delights in comforting the afflicted and healing the heartbroken.
Bible verses about the loss of a parent
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3
Who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
But God, who comforts the discouraged, comforted us. 2 Corinthians 7:6
God delights in comforting the afflicted and healing the heartbroken He is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5).
God’s Peace In Grief
When we’re grieving the loss of a loved one, God is quick to offer His peace, truly that immeasurable peace that passes all understanding!
Call upon fellow believers to help bear the burden, share the pain, and “mourn with those who mourn.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15
Surround yourself with like-minded people who can help when you need someone to hold your hand, pray with you, listen, share Scripture, and simply be there.
Your Next Step
It’s true that the passage of time helps ease the loss of a beloved parent. Smiles do eventually replace the sadness, and we find ourselves carrying on the traditions they instilled in us—during the holidays and throughout the entire year.
Note: All information on this site is for educational purposes only. Angela Cleary does not provide medical advice. Please consult a physician if you suspect medical problems or need professional advice.
Finally, if you haven’t heard Christian recording artist Hope Darst’s song, “Peace Be Still,” kindly do yourself a favor and watch the video or listen to the song.
No matter your circumstances, you will be encouraged about the storms you might be facing. A young wife and mother who’s battling cancer first brought this song to my attention a year or so ago.
It’s a powerful song of hope and healing in the midst of pain and loss, a rousing testament to the power of Christ in our lives to bring that elusive peace—true soul-deep peace—that only He can provide.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
JoAnn Durgin is the USA Today Bestselling Author of more than 35 contemporary Christian romances, including the popular Lewis Legacy Series and the Starlight Christmas Series. After living from coast to coast, and a few places in between, JoAnn lives with her family in “Kentuckiana” (southern Indiana across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky). She loves nothing more than sharing the love and hope to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.