“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Psalm 103:1-2
“The holidays will be hard.” People remind me. I already know they will be very hard. My soul mate and best friend is missing. People mean well. They want me to know they care. And I am glad they do care. But rather than reminders of the obvious, I want ideas of how to cope, how to enjoy special holidays even in my grief.
I braced for the first holiday without my husband—Thanksgiving Day. Despite my great loss I knew I had much for which to be thankful. Like the Psalmist, I wanted to bless the Lord.
My favorite kitchen helper didn’t hold the turkey while I stuffed it. And I lifted the bird into the oven myself. I congratulated myself when I had the job accomplished by 7:10 a.m. (Bless the Lord, O my soul!)
It felt right to spend the day with John’s parents. I carried the delicious-smelling turkey into their warm and welcoming home. (Bless the Lord, O my soul!) How pleasant to work beside my mother-in-law and my daughter in the kitchen. Soon the table was covered with an autumn tablecloth and dishes of steaming food. There were ten of us, not enough to miscount really, but somehow we did. I felt a stab of pain as my daughter removed the place setting next to mine, leaving a gaping hole. But soon John’s father was thanking God for the food and our blessings. I remembered John was enjoying the splendors of Glory. (Bless the Lord, O my soul!)
Late in the day the sun dipped below the trees. Twilight tinted the sky and the puddles pink. I walked on a quiet, country road with my teenage son and two of my grandchildren. Chilly, I sorely missed the presence of my tall husband. I remembered the warmth of his arm around my shoulders. “I’ll walk beside you so my coat will keep you warm,” my four-year-old grandson said. Then he reached up to put his around me. His small arm didn’t blanket my shoulders like his grandpa’s would have. But he kept his arm in place the rest of the way back to the house. Though my shoulders were still cold, my heart was warm. God knew I missed my tall friend, but in love He comforted me through my small friend. And as twilight died away into dusk, I thanked the Lord for a happy—though sad Thanksgiving Day.
Later still, in darkness, my daughter and I stood at his grave. Nearby, lights glowed from the windows of the houses in our small village. I let my grief flow forth in all its turbulence as I wept for a long time. This time it was my daughter’s arm around my shoulders. Relieved by my tears, I was able to end the day comforted again.
Sorrow punctuated my thankfulness throughout this first holiday; but I endured, I knew the love of family and friends, and I had a chance to express my profound grief. A deep settled peace, far beneath the crashing waves of grief, lulled me into peaceful sleep. (Bless the Lord, O my soul!)
Prayer for Today:
Oh Lord, I want to thank You for the many blessings You’ve poured upon me and my family. You know and understand our grief. You see our tears. You’ve promised to one day wipe them all away. I would never have chosen to lose my husband, and the children would never have chosen to lose their father, but we trust You to care for and comfort us. We know You can. We believe You will. Bless You, Lord, O my soul!