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The Christmas Elephant, Too

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Christmas can be one of those "yes and" holidays.


It is:

  • the MOST wonderful time of the year

  • a glorious time of being with family

  • full of wonder and delight (especially when experienced through the eyes of a child)

  • time to relax, reflect and enjoy

  • for me, the holy season of remembering God's love for our world by sending Jesus


It is:

  • lonely for many

  • sad for some

  • difficult when expectations are not met

  • devastating and maybe even debilitating when grieving

One of my dear friends, Dana Russo, shared a blog with me this week that addresses the "and" part of the beautiful holiday we will celebrate this week.

As I read it... the ache came knowing that, once again, I will not be celebrating with two of my adult children because they have severed their relationship with me.

My son for a reason I know.

My daughter for a reason I don't.

Something Dana has taught me is that there is a special name for this kind of grief; the one where a person is still living but the relationship is not.

It's called ambiguous grief.

Somehow, just having a name for it makes me not feel quite so "crazy" for feeling it.

It's easy to say:

  • This isn't forever

  • They'll come back to me someday

  • I am so grateful for my one adult son who IS still in relationship with me

All of those things are true.

And the ache of ambiguous grief remains.

If you are someone who is finding yourself in the "and" particularly when it comes to grief this Christmas, I gently encourage you to click here to read her post.

In it, Dana gives some powerful, tender, practical suggestions for honoring those we love who are no longer with us.

Whether that's because of their physical death or the loss of the relationship (the ambiguous grief) I can assure you...both are very real.

(Dana is the founder of HOPE RISES, a practice offering grief care and mental health counseling. She holds two certificates in death and grief studies and is a trained Spiritual Director. Her most profound teachers remain the bereaved and those they love.

My hope is that reading her message will bring you hope.

It did for me.

And at the very least perhaps it will make you aware of those navigating the "ands" who may not have the words to speak about it.

Believe someone who is living with ambiguous grief, you NOT mentioning it doesn't mean they aren't thinking about it.

In fact, you mentioning it might give them permission to acknowledge their Christmas Elephant, too.

Wishing you a blessed, honest, beautiful day as you "feel all the feels" this Christmas brings to you.

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