Christmas Through Grief-Filled Eyes

All the lights, music, laughter, and good cheer of the season felt like a distant memory never to be recaptured on that first Christmas without my husband. Could this holiday ever delight me again as it had before my loss? Was Christmas ruined forever?

I came through a year of dealing with my loss, and I found myself approaching this Christmas through new eyes. I decorated my artificial evergreen with glass balls and ribbons. Multiple mini-lights twinkle and shine brightly outside my house for all my neighbors to see, but the ache for what I lost continues to gnaw. Late one evening, I walked past my living room, where the Christmas tree stands by the front window. It was dark outside, and I had forgotten to turn on the switch to light up the tree. How strange. You see, I always made certain those lights were on to greet Curt when he drove up after a grueling day at the office. I wanted him to feel the warmth of home even before he entered. When he walked through the doors, with the smells of Christmas wafting in the air and carols softly playing in the background, I would greet him with a kiss and tell him how happy I was to have him home. But without that incentive, I stood in the dark front room, flipped on the lights of the tree late that evening, and looked out at the empty driveway where his car would never park again.

I turned my gaze to the dark sky and asked the question for the hundredth time, "Why?" I wasn't looking for an answer. It was more of a declaration of grief. I'd been doing so well, experiencing days on end without tears. I had continued to move forward. But with Christmas upon us, memories and melancholic emotions were rising to the surface again. It's normal, I know, but I don't want to stay there. The Bible says, "We do not grieve like those who have no hope." What is that hope we have? We have the hope of deliverance from our weaknesses, frailties, and sins and the promise of eternity with Christ. But how does that help me now in my grief? As I pondered this, I asked God to comfort me again, and that is what He did.

God helped me see that if Christ had never come to earth and died on the cross, there would never have been a reunion for Curt and me. We were doomed for eternal separation from God—an eternity in hell. That was our destiny. If Christ hadn't come and died and rose again, September 25, 2020, would have been my final farewell from Curt. I would have to live here knowing I could never see him again. There would not have been any songs of worship to God around Curt's death bed, only tears, agony, and despair.

But on that glorious and holy night, when our Savior was born, hope entered this world. The powers of darkness—Satan and his demons—trembled at His arrival. They had to find a way to kill this baby. He couldn't have the opportunity to grow. They schemed and planned. They killed and destroyed, but they could not stop God's plan. A helpless child with parents of no great significance could not be harmed by the rulers of earth or the powers of darkness when God protected them. His plan was to save souls and offer mankind an unimaginably amazing future for all eternity, and He would not be defeated. What Satan stole in the garden, God returned to us in a manger and on a cross.

As I stood before the Nativity scene in my living room, I looked at the Christ child with new eyes, and my heart swelled with unspeakable joy. Because of that holy night, I will see Curt again. We didn't say goodbye forever. Because God came to earth and dwelt among us, died, and rose again, there will be a reunion for all of us with our loved ones. I will one day fall on my knees before my Savior with Curt kneeling beside me, and we will raise our voices in worship to Jehovah God Almighty, the Savior of the world.

No, Christmas will never be the same again. How can it? So much has changed. But I celebrate Christmas with a deeper appreciation because of my loss. I value the worth of His gift to me with greater understanding. Like the shepherds and wise men who came and worshiped their Savior, I bend my knees and lift my hands in worship to my Lord this Christmas season.

Thank you, Lord, for my salvation.
Thank you, Lord, for a promised reunion.
Thank you that life doesn't end here.
Thank you for all eternity with You.

After all these years of attending church during the Christmas season, I have heard and read the verses in Isaiah 9 countless times. Many Christmas greeting cards contain these words. But it's not enough that I hear or read what the prophet said. Only when I take the time to meditate on this powerful prophecy will faith grow in my heart.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT

When I joined Curt in marriage, he made a commitment to me, He meant what he said and I trusted his promise to me. He remained faithful to his vows to his last breath. Imagine how much more we can depend upon the "passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven's Armies." He promised us eternity with Him, and He will do.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.
There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.
If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
And you know the way to where I am going.”

John 14:1-4 NLT

Even while grieving, may the true meaning of Christmas fill your heart with hope and joy.
There will be a glorious reunion.

By

Anneliese Dalaba

January 19, 2022