Painfully Blue Christmas: Acknowledging Pain This Holiday


When you hear the words Blue Christmas, you may think of the Elvis Presley Christmas Album. I’ve always thought of that ballad being directed toward a breakup. When he sings, “you’ll be doing alright with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue, blue Christmas.” There may be more to a Blue Christmas this year than breaking up with someone, although that may be part of it for you.

Have you ever heard of Churches holding “Blue Christmas” services? These are specifically geared toward people who are experiencing loss in their lives. These services acknowledge the pain that loss brings, especially this time of the year when joy is supposed to abound.

We have all been through a year of loss. Wildfires have extinguished homes, Covid-19 has snuffed out the lives of millions, some of us may have a new health diagnosis that’s terminal, and others have tragedies that we cannot fathom. How can we get through the holiday with pain that grips our hearts?

This Christmas may be the first time without a loved one at our side. The memories and the loss seem overpowering. I remember the burial service of my mother, who died close to my December birthday. At the grave site, when the service was over, the absolute worst part was driving away, leaving her there. I didn’t want to leave. The picture of her casket resting there, on that cold and wintry day four years ago, is still fresh in my mind.

I’d like to pass on thoughts about what may help you if this year (or every year) is a Blue Christmas. Try them or share your own, to ease the pain that comes with loss.

Sit in the Pain for a Moment

We may try to brush it off, fake it till we make it, or neglect the ache that is squeezes around our hearts like a straitjacket. What if we acknowledged it, and let the pain be there for a bit? It’s real. The pain exists, and to brush it off is not real.

Notice I said for a moment? I don’t mean a literal moment, but for a time, let yourself feel the pain. It’s there, so let it be. You already know that this pain can consume you, so it’s up to you to allow it, then cut it off so it isn’t the entire story of every day or the holiday. Can you do this? I believe you can.

Consider Your Loved One’s Wishes for You

Ask yourself, “What would my loved one want for me right now?” When I think of my dear sister who died from cancer, I know she would want me to experience family, love as much as possible while there’s time, and allow joy to seep into my life. No one will ever replace her. Yet, she would want me to live without the overwhelming grief of losing her.

Consider Possible Gifts

If your loved one was here, what gift would they give you? It wouldn’t need to be something lavish, but something considerate. It could be a warm blanket or socks, or a small item that meant something to them and to you. If so, I suggest getting it for yourself, and acknowledging that they would love for you to have it.

What gift would they give someone else? You can gift this item in their memory. One year, I gifted much of my sister’s quilting supplies to a friend who loves to quilt. I did this in my sister’s memory. My sis would love for quilting to continue because of her. You could make yourself the loved one’s favorite meal or do an act of kindness toward someone with them in mind.

Blue Christmas Service

If a church with a Blue Christmas service is near you, would you be brave enough to join others who have more grief than joy this season? From what I’ve read, this is a service where you can be who you are with the feelings you have. There’s no reason to act happy or joyful or sing Christmas Carols at these services.

You may find it healing to know that you are not the only one wishing the season was over. Google Blue Christmas services near me. A church near me in Minneapolis states, “Come and experience God’s love when it seems like you can’t find it. Come as you are.” I love this, there’s no expectation on attendees to be OK and have it all together for Christmas joy and cheer.

A Helpful Hand

Those who have been down this road of pain, have suggestions for you that may help you through. Read some of these in the article titled, “Acknowledging our Pain: Resources for a Blue Christmas Service.” Here are other resources that give ideas for this holiday. You can find your own as you search around in bookstores, Amazon books, or through google searches.

Doing These 4 Things Could Really Help

Why the Holidays Don’t Make Everyone Feel So Jolly

Engage in Writing

Try writing a letter, keeping a journal, or writing a poem to or about your loved one, or the loss. Writing a letter to the one who’s gone is therapeutic sometimes. Penning the loss of your health, home, or job gets it from your head to the paper. It’s not gone, but there could be a little relief in having those thoughts that swim around in your head written down.

Who are you missing, or what are you missing this Christmas? If you have found resources or have ideas to help with a Blue Christmas, please share with us. And remember, you are not alone. Others have their stories of pain to tell.

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