(The following article was written by Willie Hamblen, minister of the Chisholm Hills church of Christ in Florence, AL. I thought it would be appropriate as we enter the holiday season. RJ)
The holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is a wonderful experience for individuals and families whose lives are going smoothly. But the same time period can be a dark, bottomless pit for those who have lost the one or ones who gave meaning to the holidays. Those who hurt feel alone and lonely, even in the midst of a crowd. Others around them who still have all their loved ones may not be able to appreciate the emptiness they endure in this “festive” time. The lonely find it hard to get through.
If you find yourself alone this year, what can you do to make it better? What have others done who have been in similar circumstances? The following are suggestions from some who have been there. Maybe they will help you.
Open up, don’t clam up.
When you are depressed and lonely, the tendency is to curl up in the fetal position and hope the world will go away. However, those who seem to be most successful in getting through the holidays are those that let others know they are hurting. It is okay to say, “I’m hurting! Please help me! I need you!” The person who can help the most may feel awkward unless you invite him or her into your life. Consider also a support group or individual counseling if it is available. Letting others help can be a great remedy.
Look up, not back.
The lonely sometimes have a tendency to look back at what used to be and wish it were still the same or could be the same again. That is not possible or realistic. What is realistic is letting God lead you. Look around for others that God has helped through deep valleys and know that He is able to carry you through, also. Pray your heart out and trust that He is listening. He has ways of soothing pain and introducing things and people into our lives which support us until we are able to cope…never on our own, but with the help He and others give.
One of the best things that you can do is to find someone else who also is in pain and try to help him or her through. It gives life meaning again and helps to get your mind off your own situation. The helper is helped as much as the one who is the initial target of the help. Both are blessed. Someone else who is hurting may not have your coping skills. Share. It makes things easier.
Look forward, not backward. Life does have to go on. You may not be ready to say it yet, but you know it is true. No one and no relationship has lasted forever on this earth. Others in your situation have survived and have begun to live meaningful lives again. You can, too. Talk with some of the survivors. If you need to, get a counselor who has experience in situations like yours. Plan for better days.