And Sometimes on Christmas We Cry

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal 10 Comments


There are things we don’t want to happen, but have to accept; things we don’t want to know, but have to learn, and people we can’t live without, but have to let go. (Jennifer Jareau, a fictional character from the show Criminal Minds)

At Christmas time we want everything to be happy. We say Merry Christmas and we mean it. Joy to the world and we rejoice in the greatest gift – Jesus. We gather with family and friends. We give and get gifts. Many of you have shared your stories of favorite gifts. But sometimes Christmas comes and it’s hard to feel any of the merry. We’ve had several terrible things happen in our area in the last few weeks. A young father killed in a car wreck. A mother of three shot and killed in a domestic violence incident. A young boy murdered by an intruder into this house.  Sad things. Tragic happenings. Sorrowful times.

When Sandi sent me her story, I hesitated to post it here. Christmas should be all smiles. But in truth, Christmas is not always all smiles for us. Economic problems can dampen the joy. Losing someone you love can cast a shadow over Christmas. That first Christmas after a loved one dies always seems to hold an especially deep well of sadness. And while we know Jesus is the Reason for the season and that if we’re weeping, He’s walking alongside us offering us a shoulder to cry on, an arm to lean on and sometimes picking us up and carrying us, the sorrow is still there.

Another happening that can leave a huge residue of sorrow is suicide. That’s what Sandi’s story tells. Here it is.

Being rather old (69) I have many many Christmas memories, most of them good. But, the Christmas that speaks to me the most is the one following my mother’s death. People don’t like to speak of suicide and it is difficult to admit that someone you love, chose death to being here in this life. There were eight children in our family and I credit both Mom and Dad for teaching us to love the Lord and to be good, kind people, but it was Mom who made certain that we had clean clothes for church and guided us every day. As she got older, she relied, heavily, on drugs to control a medical problem that she’d developed later in life. Those drugs caused her to lose her way and after many years of struggle, she chose to end it–for all of us.

My mom was the epitome of Santa Claus. She “made” Christmas for us as children and even as adults she made certain each family had a special something under the tree. She taught us to sing and we’d go to “The County Home” (and other places) to perform on Christmas Eve. The Partridge Family had nothing on us! She never made “a” pie, she made eight. Christmas cookies would be cooling on every surface in the kitchen and nothing seemed to make her happier than to watch our excited faces on Christmas morning.

I was 35 years old, with a husband and three children, when I got the phone call, in September, the day before her birthday, that she had “overdosed.’ She died three days later.

I went through all the stages of grief with one added–guilt. If I had been the daughter I should have been, she’d have stayed, wouldn’t she have?! And then…Christmas came. Songs made me cry, smells reminded me of her and I cried some more. And then one day it was as though God spoke to me, and said, “Child, she was mine before she was yours and I allowed her to come Home.” I realized that neither her life nor her death was in my hands. I admit that I still cried…I do to this day, but it’s not the horrible grief and guilt that I carried for far too long. Her name was “Grace.” And she was truly “Amazing Grace.”

Thanks, Sandi, for sharing your story. I lost a beloved aunt to suicide so I know the pain and guilt that can follow such a death. I told her story here last year. If you’d like to read it, here’s the link. In that post I also include some heartrending statistics about suicide.

Nativity setTuesday (December 15 at midnight EST) is the last day to enter my Christmas giveaway. I wanted to have time to get the prize, (the Nativity Set) to the winner before Christmas. You can read about the prizes on my News & Events Page. I’ll contact the winners via e-mail and post the winners here on Wednesday. But if you haven’t entered yet, you still have time.  A comment here will get you an entry.

And please pray for those who may be having trouble feeling the joy of Christmas this year.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” …John 14:17 (NKJ)

Comments 10

  1. Pam K.

    I am thankful we have the Lord to help us. I’m facing my first Christmas without my mom (she died a few days before Thanksgiving). She was 84 and I know she was ready to go, but we miss her. It will be very different to celebrate Christmas, especially in her house, with the rest of my family (including Dad, thankfully).

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I’m sorry you lost your mother, Pam. That can make Christmas a little lonely as long held traditions have to be changed and adjusted. It was that way when Mom got dementia. Even before she passed away, Christmas was not the same because she was not the same. But I do hope the joy of the Christmas season will somehow be a comfort to you and to your dad as you remember your mother and how much she loved you.

  2. Kate

    My sweet cousin took her own life this fall. She was only 52 with a husband and son that she adored. She had been in extreme pain for much of her life. She was a strong Christian, loving and serving those around her in spite of her pain. I know that this Christmas will be a hard one. Thank you for this post- it is a comfort.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      I suppose sometimes things simply get too hard, Kate. But that is a very difficult thing for her husband and son to deal with. For all her family to deal with. I know when my aunt killed herself she wasn’t thinking clearly. She had no idea how much her death was going to hurt all of us or she would have never done it. That was probably true with your cousin too. Prayers for all her family this sad Christmas. Sometimes the hardest thing is how nobody wants to talk about it all.

  3. Sally Shupe

    Thank you for sharing this post. It spoke to my heart this morning. We never know what someone else is going through or struggling with. We should each lift up, encourage, and pray for one another. I will be praying for those who may be having trouble feeling the joy of Christmas this year. When families gather close, the pain of losing a family member, friend, seems intensified.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thank you for your sweet commitment to pray for those dealing with difficult situations this Christmas, Sally. Prayerful concern is a gift to those grieving or having other problems. You are right about how the lost family member or friend is so in our minds at Christmas time. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  4. Nancy Brown

    Christmas has become a time of selfishness, what I want, and, I need to hurry, rush, and spend even more money. That’s not what Jesus is about. He came to earth as the Christ, the Messiah, made himself into a servant, and He gave all He could, for us, for the whole world. Let’s remember to give to others, wanting nothing in return. To love our enemies, pray for those who despitefully use us, and to forgive as Jesus has forgiven us.
    [34] Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    [35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    [40] And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    That’s the real business of being a Christian. Acting as if it is Christmas every day of the year.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      Thanks for sharing these Bible truths with us, Nancy. We do need to stop and remember the less fortunate and many of my readers have done that. Their stories of favorite gifts given showed that. It’s such a blessing for me to hear everyone’s stories and be able to share a few forward.

  5. Melanie Backus

    We just don’t know what heartache and pain some people deal with and carry. I go to church with a precious lady. Her poor little body is bent and curved by arthritis and she has pain constantly but she never complains and is thankful that she is able to be at church. She is an inspiration for me and everyone else. Love for the Lord shines through with her and I am a better person for knowing and loving her.

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      Ann H Gabhart

      What a sweet testimony of faith, Melanie! Your friend may not even know that she is an inspiration and loving example to others, but we do see those like her around us and simply know how they must be leaning on the Lord to make it through their days. Thanks for stopping by.

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