5 Things to Know if You Are Grieving This Holiday Season

5 Things to Know if You Are Grieving This Holiday Season

5 Things to Know if You Are Grieving This Holiday Season

Ever since I was a young girl, the Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas traditions, and when I was growing up, my family had plenty of them. I always knew I would pass along these cherished traditions to my own family when I became an adult. But that all changed after the death of my husband in the Twin Towers on 9/11.

Ever since I was a young girl, the Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year. I love Christmas traditions, and when I was growing up, my family had plenty of them. I always knew I would pass along these cherished traditions to my own family when I became an adult.

Every year, I eagerly anticipated seeing the first lights of the season, knowing this was the beginning of a magical time. I couldn’t wait to open my mailbox each day to see all the beautiful Christmas cards I had received. I loved decorating the Christmas tree with my family while singing along with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Amy Grant. We made sure we watched every Christmas classic from Charlie Brown to It’s a Wonderful Life. We wore matching pajamas, drank hot cocoa, made gingerbread houses, and cookies for Santa. We loved Christmas. It was a time with my family, friends, and most of all, to celebrate the Savior’s birth.

But that all changed after the death of my husband in the Twin Towers on 9/11. 

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Approaching the Holidays with Grief

I knew that getting through the holiday season that year would be more about survival than celebration. There were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to shop, decorate, or put on a smile for a holiday party. I was constantly reminded of my loss. Everyone seemed to be living the fairytale life I once had. I couldn’t bear to hear “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It seemed like everywhere I went, grief went with me. How could I even think about celebrating when my heart was still so overcome with brokenness?

Knowing I couldn’t carry my burdens any longer, I cried out to God and He was there to comfort me with open arms. By putting my trust in the Lord, I was about to learn that I could actually have joy in the midst of my suffering. The more I relied on Him, the more of Himself He revealed to me with each step of my broken path.

God’s word says that when we are hurting, we can find comfort in His promises. I clung to His promises that He will never leave me or forsake me, He is near to the brokenhearted, and when I am weak, He will give me strength to endure whatever I’m going through. I turned my eyes off of the situation and fixed them on an Almighty God. He alone could manifest His plan for my life in the good times and in the bad.

By putting my life in God’s hands and seeking His wisdom, I not only got through the holiday season, I began to grow through my grief. 

Here are 5 things I learned about grieving through the holidays:

1. Don’t Isolate Yourself

Isolating yourself during grief is the worst thing you can do. We are not meant to grieve alone. Surround yourself with family and friends. God’s blessings will be made new every day by the precious people in your life. And if you don’t have a church family, find a church. Community is one of the most important things to someone who is grieving. God’s people, many who have walked through grieving themselves, want to help you through your healing process. God promises He will comfort us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 says, “When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2. Don’t Expect the Holidays to Be the Same

Unfortunately, being a Christian does not mean we are exempt from pain, suffering, or loss. Treasure the precious memories you shared together, but try to accept the fact that certain things may never be the same. Don’t be afraid to try new things or start new traditions. Your life may forever be changed, but rejoice in the fact that Jesus remains the same. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow! “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 3).

3. Allow Yourself to Grieve

We cannot ignore grief. It is okay to cry. Learn to journal your feelings so you don’t keep your emotions bottled up. Understand that we cannot numb grief with things that will eventually leave us feeling empty. As Billy Graham once said, “When we grieve over someone who died in Christ, we are sorrowing not for them, but for ourselves. Our grief is not a sign of weak faith, but of great love.” The scriptures offer us comfort as well: “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4), “Oh Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.” (Psalm 30:2)

4. Don’t Ignore the Memories

Memories are the best legacies that exist after the death of a loved one. Instead of ignoring the memories, talk about them and keep them alive. You don’t have to be afraid to share stories about your loved ones. Sharing these precious memories can be an unbelievable source of comfort and healing. Memories are precious gifts from God. Find strength in them and be thankful that the grave is not the final resting place. If your hope is in Jesus Christ, you will see them again one day! Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7). 

5. Stand on God’s Promises

Draw near to Christ, and He will draw near to you. He will meet you right where you are. You may feel shattered into a million different pieces, but He is ready to make us whole. God doesn’t want us to carry our burdens alone, He wants us to hand them over to Him. “Therefore humble yourself under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time. Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5: 6-7).

Being a child of God means you are never alone, and Christmas reminds us all that He is Emmanuel, God with us. Your grief will last for a season, but when you put your hope in Christ, you will never be disappointed.  


Shelly Genovese Calhoun is a speaker, wife, mother, and author of the book “Twice Blessed: A Journey of Hope Through 9/11.” A former fashion model, she represented East Texas in the Miss Texas USA pageant. During her modeling career, she worked for Anne Klein, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, Panhandle Slim, Dillard and many other notable companies. She resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is married to her best friend, Heath, and their two children. For more information, visit www.TwiceBlessed911.com

Shelly Genovese Calhoun is a speaker, wife, mother, and author of the book “Twice Blessed: A Journey of Hope Through 9/11.” A former fashion model, she represented East Texas in the Miss Texas USA pageant. During her modeling career, she worked for Anne Klein, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, Panhandle Slim, Dillard and many other notable companies. She resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is married to her best friend, Heath, and their two children. For more information, visit www.TwiceBlessed911.com

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