Surviving the Loss of a Child During the Holidays

Thanksgiving Day was not even over this year when Black Friday rushed in like a runaway train.  I hope as people abruptly switched mode from thankfulness to Christmas shopping and all the festivities of the season such as: office parties, school plays, the hustle and the bustle, planning holiday meals, stressing over prickly relatives; they don’t forget what it truly means to be grateful for what one has.  As the old saying goes,

“We don’t appreciate what we have until it is gone.”

Those of us who have lost a loved one, especially a child, know this too well.

I barely survived  my son Jonathan’s funeral.   It would be the last time I would see his earthly body.

For one, I had a splitting headache from the grief, the stress, and sleep deprivation.  It felt as if the same icepick that had been driven through my heart had also been driven through my skull when I numbly sat a few feet from the coffin that held my son’s body.

Immediately after his death September 24, 2011, I found myself battered by one painful reminder after another.  Expressions of death were everywhere.   I could not escape them unless I locked myself away.  Flyers and newspapers were loaded with ads for Halloween.  Movie previews of every kind of bloody death, dying, and creepy things blasted away on the television.   Morbid billboards and signs sprung ahead of me as I ran much needed errands.  Lawns were decorated as graves with tombstones, skeletons, and decaying things climbing out of their graves.

I could not walk into the simplest of stores without being assaulted by gruesome masks and similar reminders of the decomposing world.

Through my daze, I tried to override the horrific mental images that flashed through my mind every time I saw anyone on a motorcycle, as that is how my son died.

Then the holidays rushed in.  Grieving the fresh loss of a child during the holidays can cut one’s heart in half.

So did the fact that sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas is my son’s birthday.  November 30th.  It would have been his 30th earthly birthday this year.

Thanksgiving felt achingly empty.  While people all around me were celebrating and giving thanks for what they had, I was asking God why it wasn’t me that had been taken instead.

Immediately after Thanksgiving, his birthday freshly slumped my soul.  The very day I once met, and held my tiny boy was now a day reminding me of his loss. Jonathan had 27 earthly birthdays. He has been in Heaven for three of his earthly birthdays, if they celebrate such things.  I don’t know which birthday they would celebrate most.  His earthly birthday, the day he received Jesus as his personal Savior and became born again, or if it is the day he was birthed into the Heavenly realm.  Perhaps all three.

Christmas brought nothing but numbness as I relived memories of Christmases long past.  I had no heart for decorations, greeting cards, or Christmas cheer. The bright lights and songs only reminded me of all that was missing in my life. The days dragged on, prolonging the ache.  I unintentionally dragged an anchor of heaviness around with my soul.

I survived those months but can only credit God for His mercy and grace in my life.  I did make it through: stronger, more faithful, trusting Almighty God more than ever. I frankly don’t know how people who have no hope of seeing their loved ones in the afterlife can make it through such an excruciating experience.

There is a saying that goes something like this,

“We tend to not appreciate the ones closest to us, while at the same time we strive to please the ones that don’t matter as much.”

Always take the time to let those closest to you know that you love them.  We barely notice the years fly by until one day when we are stricken with the dreaded news of a loved one’s death.

There are no rules or regulations for grieving the loss of a loved one, especially a child. Family and friends always offer their tidbits. Grieving is difficult enough without putting extra effort and energy one does not have out at such a time to please others.  I found for me,the best thing to do was to make myself comfortable while forsaking unnecessary pressure. Everyone has their own pace. It is best to slow down the pace though we naturally want to speed it up. It does get easier with time. But, two years is not long enough.

Keep in mind that as painful as it is, the rollercoaster ride of grief has its own cleansing and healing purpose.

I am grateful for God’s promises.  Because of Jesus’ death and my son’s faith, Praise God,  I know I will see him again.


By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013 ©


Filed under Inner Sruggles and Heartache, Loss of a Child

15 responses to “Surviving the Loss of a Child During the Holidays

  1. I have never lost a child so I can’t identify with that type of grief. However, my mother’s death was hard on me. In January of 2012 I had a dream and in the dream I was one again in my boyhood home. I remember standing at my mother’s China closet and in the dream she came up to me and said that because we were Christians, we would see each other again. The dream occurred 4 years after her death. She to died in November.

  2. Without God’s promises to hang on to, this world is such a hard place to handle. That’s why I think there are so many people in the throes of despair – even though they wouldn’t admit it, it’s because they don’t know the Lord. I’m sorry for the loss you’ve endured but rejoice with you that you will see your son again!

  3. To just hear if your loss and trying to imagine the pain is gut wrenching. If your strength and ability to persevere is not a testament to the power of Christ, then I don’t know what is. May the presence and comfort of His Holy Spirit continue to abide in your life.

  4. Well, happy Friday Thanksgiving to you and your family, and thank you for your comment, betsyborchardt. Good is so good!

  5. Elizabeth,
    Thank you for posting your experience with losing your son. Your description is thorough, although I know I don’t know the depth of or all pervasive grief you felt. From what you shared, I know I will never take my family members or close friends for granted anymore. We are all getting older and none of us knows how long the Lord intends to keep us on this earth. I will be very thankful for spending time with my family members this Friday, as we weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving Day together. May God bless you. Betsy

  6. Sending hugs Elizabeth … may the Lord wrap you in His arms, may you feel His love and presence particularly as we enter this time of ‘family’ celebrations. It’s been three years this years since my brother died … in his 40’s … and five since my mother passed … I can feel your pain and I am sorry; but even just writing post is a part of God’s healing for you xxx

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