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Coping With Christmastime Sorrow

A few nights ago, I lay in bed crying, my husband’s arms wrapped around me, comforting me, when I heard myself say out-loud, “I just want to go home.”  My own words struck my heart so that they momentarily halted my tears.

My husband responded that he knew and felt the same, then later told me that “going home” seems like the only way to make this situation – the tragic loss of our 25-year-old middle son – right.  To go home.

Shortly after our son passed away I came across a quote by Charles Spurgeon that rang oh, so true with me, and my recent crying jag brought it back to my mind.

“Severe trouble in a true believer has the effect of loosening the roots of his soul earthward and tightening the anchor-hold of his heart heavenward.”

One of my most precious and treasured blessings left this earth in a very sudden and tragic way a little over 4 years ago.  This “severe trouble” has most certainly loosened the roots of my soul earthward and tightened the distance between heaven and earth for me.

A part of me is in heaven.

I want to go there with an intensity I never had before he left.

This walk of grieving the loss of one of my children is the most difficult, haphazard, unpredictable and treacherous path I’ve ever been on.  Just about the time it seems I have come through the most grievous part, I’m plunged back into the reality of my family missing a member – permanently – and I am in the deep, dark trenches of sorrow once again.

I find myself there, this Christmas season.  I’m numb.  Then I’m sad.  Angry.  Then, ANGRY.  I lash out.  I apologize.  I cry.  Repent.  Then numb again.

I still look for him, hoping he’s just been MIA for the past 4 years.  Surely he’s somewhere I can get to.  Surely he hasn’t truly left this earth forever.

I risked going through his knapsack a few days ago.  After 20 minutes or so of looking at NWU’s (Navy Working Uniforms) and various other articles of clothing and memorabilia, I replaced it all in the knapsack and put it back on the shelf it’s been on for a little over 4 years, then returned to doing my husband and I’s laundry.




I later confessed to my honey that I had been looking for our son, metaphorically speaking, in his knapsack. But he wasn’t there.

He told me he is there……….again, metaphorically speaking.  He wore those clothes.  He held and treasured those items of memorabilia……, a card I gave him upon his high school graduation.

His Christmas stocking is hanging on the banister, along with everyone else’s in our family, between mine and his youngest sister’s.

I didn’t buy anything to put in it this year.

I didn’t cry when I hung it.

I don’t have any hopes or expectations.

I know how it will go Christmas morning.

I’m so sad and I kind of feel dead, though I keep crying, so I must not be dead.

Okay, enough of the sorrowful ramblings!

Another quote that has encouraged me lately is also a C. H. Spurgeon one:

“Your soul may be so assailed that it shall seem as if you could not keep your hold on Christ, but Christ shall keep His hold on you.”  

I have felt my soul assailed for over 4 years now.  It is not an easy thing to live with.  But…………..Christ shall keep His hold on me.  What an amazing truth – that Jesus is holding me and mine, even when we are ANGRY because of our loss.

And finally, an excerpt from the devotional my grandma gave me when I was a young teen – Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman.  Did my grandma know, all those years ago, I’d someday find myself in a desert that, like a mirage before my natural eyes, has no end?

This excerpt reminds me that this natural world and all it contains is not all there is; and that is why I do not “grieve as those who have no hope”.

“E’en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief; Death cannot long divide. 

For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall has blossomed on the other side?  

Death doth hide, but not divide; Thou are but on Christ’s other side!  

Thou art with Christ, and Christ with me; In Christ united still are we.” 

One day I will go home.

One day my husband and children and grandchildren will go home.

And all will be made right.

“O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling places.  Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; And upon the lyre I shall praise You, O God, my God. 

Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why are you disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”  Psalm 43:3-5

sunshine through the snow




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