"I regret how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave you the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.” President Abraham Lincoln
On this day in history in 1864, legend has it that President Lincoln composed a letter to a mother who lost five sons in the Civil War. I say legend because Lincoln might not have composed the letter and all five sons might not have died in the war honorably. Regardless, it is one of the most beautiful grief notes I have ever seen. For some of us, grief is always right around the corner, and knowing what to say is often impossible. The unbearable grief of the loss of a child, not to mention five, is especially difficult to respond to. Grief during the holidays is especially unbearable under the glitter and glow of Christmas lights and falala.
This year, I am struggling to postpone the lights and falala and prepare my heart and my home for the birth of Jesus. Part of that preparation is to be sensitive and compassionate to the world around me that grieves, that mourns death and loss, heartbreak and the torture of it.
If you are grieving and the thought of Christmas frivolity brings you sorrow, look around your community for a Blue Christmas service or a Longest Night service. You will find comfort and consolation in the midst of others who grieve, with a focus on the healing presence of the Christ Child, not the hyper excitement of Santa's world.