Christmas can be, in a word, stressful.

It can be a difficult time for many of us. When someone dies or leaves and when grief is part of the picture the stress can be overwhelming. Christmas gatherings are filled with memories of the past. Empty chairs remind us of who is not at the table. Grief finds its place in our hearts.

Grief is one thing that often surprises us.

How often, when you think you are having a good day, does one word bring on the tears? How often does a familiar smell, or a song, or finding a picture tucked in a drawer bring a rush of unexpected emotions?

Grief is one of those things that we can never fully know or understand or plan for in our lives.

One thing we should do is honour our grief - not bury or avoid the emotions associated with it, but get up and live through the grief and face each day. Grief is a part of us.

Yes, we need to be gentle to ourselves and let the anger, sadness, fear or tears come; but we also need to embrace the day that has been given.

At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus - Immanuel - which means God with us. We are not alone. Remembering that God is with us gives us the courage to embrace the new day. Faith gives us the strength and grace to carry on.

I wrote this “Reflection on Tears” after my father’s death. May these words remind you to be gentle with yourself as you face the stresses of Christmas.

A Reflection on Tears (Linda Wheler)

Tears seem to come when we least expect them or even welcome their arrival We name them like the emotion behind them Tears of joy Anger Sadness Grief …tears

…tears that many of us have cried in the quiet hours of the morning unexpected tears shed in the middle of crowded places tears that spilled out of control. Is it control that we long for? control of ourselves so we can cry at convenient times? Would there be a suitable time to cry? Is it something that we should make a priority in our calendar?

Or are tears an unexpected gift To remind us again that we are human? Are tears a gift of God’s Spirit that well up from deep within Bringing tenderness to a hardened heart Release of a hidden anger tied, buried Giving life to longings too deep for words or an expression of the sadness of a broken and grieving heart?


Maybe the best way to receive them is as a gift as a sign of the Spirit at work Do not fight to hold them back But simply let them move freely bringing hope, healing and new life

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