My cousin Sharon died by suicide in April 2003.
Her despair from a marriage that ended in divorce coupled with her decade long struggle with depression were too much for her to cope.
Christmas 2003 for her surviving family was one in which her extended family left a lot to be desired. Looking back I am sure we dropped the ball.
I wish I knew then what I learned by reading Kay Warren’s story about the first Christmas without her son, Matthew.
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS WITHOUT…
Rick and Kay Warren’s son Matthew died by suicide in April 2013. Her mother’s heart says it all in this post about her first Christmas without Matthew.
“Christmas 2013 was our family’s first without our son Matthew. I could barely breathe. I stayed away from the grocery store and the mall, fearing I couldn’t hold it together in either. The Internet became my friend as I shopped late at night, without sentimental mall music stirring up memories of Christmases past—when all three of my children were alive.
But every day, the Christmas cards arrived.
When I opened the first batch of cards, shock washed over me. Photos of beautiful, happy, intact families cascaded onto my kitchen table. Most were accompanied by a greeting wishing me a joyous Christmas. Some had a signature and the message, “Hope you have a great Christmas.” Others included a standard family newsletter, listing the accomplishments, vacations, and delightful family moments that had filled their year. I grew astonished, then angry, as I realized that none of the cards mentioned that our precious Matthew had died violently six months earlier, leaving us definitely not having a joyous Christmas.”
APPLICATION: Is this your first “Christmas without?” Please leave a comment below and pass this post along to someone you know who can relate.
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I have had so many years where it has been the first Christmas without someone special, including this year. There have been close family members and friends, also extended family that are no longer here. Kay Warren has voiced what so many have not been able to say. For me right now, I really miss past traditions that are gone forever. Getting excited for loved ones to come from out of town does not happen anymore. I do very little decorating around the house. I do not care for gift shopping, although I do a little. It is not important for me to receive gifts. What I really want is for the people who are gone to come back. I do my best to get through Christmas by spending time with family who are still here. I love baking, listening to Christmas music and watching the right Christmas movies on TV. Just simple things. Last year I attended North Pointe for the first time on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful and the start of a new tradition for me. Christ is back in my Christmas.
Your words, “really what I want is for the people who are gone to come back.” I’ve heard that sentiment echoed many times from people who grieving their loss. I think that’s what makes Christmas so hard.
I am glad you have found North Pointe to be a place of hope and a new beginning. I trust that your experience will continue to deepen and broaden in connecting with people God brings across your path.
God bless you, Patricia.