This year at Lenbrook, we will be having our second annual Blue Christmas Service. You may be asking: “And what might a Blue Christmas Service be?” I am glad you asked. Stephen Covey once said: “Air is to the body what understanding is to the soul.” For us to be spiritually well, we must be understood, and to be understood, our feelings (and I do mean all of them) need a serious hearing.
“For many, who have recently lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy.”1 Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas just does not seem to be in the cards for someone who has just lost their spouse of 65 years.
As Chaplains, we are trained to see the emotional narrative running parallel to our fact narratives.
Fact Narrative: I am going to my adult daughter’s home for Christmas brunch.
Feeling Narrative: I dread pretending like I am happy on Christmas Day, while every second of every minute I will be thinking about my husband who will not be at the table this year.
Indeed, as Nancy Guthrie puts it: “even the best times are punctuated with an awareness that someone is missing.” The idea behind the Blue Christmas Service is to provide a quiet, contemplative service as an alternative to the more traditional gatherings as a way to care for those who are sad or struggling while those around them are caught up in celebrating.
Chaplains realize that tears are not a problem to be solved.
* Tears do not mean someone is not doing well with their grief.
* Tears are not the enemy and
* Tears certainly do not reflect a lack of faith.2
I will never forget what one bereaved parent once told me: “tears are my trophy for having loved.”
And so, on Thursday, December 19th a group of residents and two Lenbrook Chaplains gathered to give our tender feelings a serious hearing and yes, we will admire the trophies we have won for having loved.
And we encourage you to take the time and hold space for your feelings this holiday season.
1 What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas, Article by Nancy Guthrie, December 21, 2016.