The most wonderful time of the year isn’t such a wonderful time of year for many people. The holiday season tends to be a time when people feel overwhelmed and depressed. It is also a time of year when many people suffer from loneliness – especially those who have suffered loss or tragedy.
From Thanksgiving to Christmas, we are bombarded with images of togetherness, but for those who lost someone they love, these constant reminders can be very painful. While every loss is different, and the way we handle grief is unique, there are some things suffering people can do to cope during this lonely season.
12 Tips to Help Those Suffering Through the Holiday Season
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” – Psalm 25:16
1. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
First and foremost, keep your eyes on Jesus. When you feel you’re sinking in grief and loneliness, think of how all Peter had to do when he started sinking was look towards Jesus and he was saved (Matthew 14:22-33).
You can trust He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is close to you in your time of loneliness even if you don’t feel Him. When feelings take hold of you, share your heart with the Lord in prayer. Ultimately, you cannot fill the void with anything else but Jesus.
2. Think about these.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
If you catch yourself getting caught in a negative thought pattern, remember Paul’s words here. Turn your thoughts to the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. By thinking about things that are praiseworthy, we can change our mindsets.
3. Put into practice what you have learned.
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9
Paul tells us to put into practice the things he shared. These include rejoicing always and presenting our requests to God in prayer. The Bible is our best guide for navigating difficult times in our lives. If we apply what we learn from God’s word to our lives, we will have peace that is beyond understanding – even during the holidays.
4. Go to church and worship.
When you are hurting deeply, it is easy to shut down and want to hide. Don’t. Instead, try your hardest to go to church. A church service gives you space to worship God, which may feel hard when you are struggling with loneliness. However, as we’ve discussed, worship is essential. Allow your church to minister to you during this season.
5. Find comfort in your friends in Christ.
The holidays are traditionally about family time. Therefore, it can be an especially challenging season for those who have lost family members. While you cannot expect someone else to replace your loved one, you could seek solace from your friends in Christ. Fellow believers can help you remember that you have an eternal hope in Jesus and encourage you to press forward.
6. Don’t wait for the invite. Extend the invite.
If part of your loneliness is due to an empty calendar, don’t wait for someone to invite you to an event. Instead, extend the invite yourself. Invite someone to dinner or out for coffee. Sometimes we think we are unwanted, or our grief is too big for others, but it is more likely that people do not know if we want to be included. Open your table to others.
7. Serve in your church or community.
Throughout the Bible, we are told to love others. Maybe the best way to deal with loneliness during the holidays is to love others. You can do this by choosing to serve in your church or community. By focusing on others’ needs at the holidays, it will help alleviate much of the loneliness you are feeling.
8. Take time to remember.
Many people try to escape their memories because the memories are too painful. Instead, you should take time to reflect on some of your favorite memories with your loved one and share those memories with others.
Most importantly, take time to remember what God has done. In times of hardship, it is especially important to recognize God’s faithfulness throughout history and in our own lives. When you are hurting, remember His goodness and trust Him to help you make it through another day.
9. Make healthy choices.
Often the combination of grief and the holidays leads people to make unhealthy choices. They do not eat healthily or drink safely. They do not get enough rest. They do not get enough exercise. Making unhealthy lifestyle choices will only numb your pain for a little while, but these negative choices can have lasting effects on your health.
10. Don’t ignore your pain.
The holidays can be hard – even more so if you are hurting. Don’t ignore your pain and stuff your feelings inside. If you need to cry, allow yourself to cry. Cry out to God for comfort and let others to be His hands and feet when you need them to be.
11. Don’t overextend yourself.
While many of these tips do require you to act, it’s important to know your personal limits. You may not be able to attend all the same holiday events as you could in previous years or keep up all the same traditions. And, that’s okay. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
12. Celebrate the birth of your Savior.
Finally, focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. While the holiday season tends to be family-focused for many, remember that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of your Savior. Even if you are saddened by how different this season looks than in years past, you can still find joy in Christ.
If you are struggling with loneliness this Christmas season, remember when Jesus was born, He was called “Emmanuel” – God with us. You are not alone - He is with you.
“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” – Matthew 1:23