By Dr. Katie Murray, L.P.
Honoring the Pain this Holiday Season
A few years ago I found myself experiencing a loss at Thanksgiving and grieving as Christmas approached. I love the season. I am a tradition junky and yet it was hard to fully engage in excitement and joy expressed by my kids. My heart was hurting and that needed to be honored.
Our church has weekly Advent services that have traditionally included the Holden Evening Prayer service. I sat in the room with candles and my community, singing the lyrics “let my prayers rise up like incense before you, the lifting up of my hands as an offering to you.” With tears streaming down my face, feeling held in warmth and understanding, I recalled something I had read that spoke about Advent as a time of waiting, of longing. That year my longing was different and those Advent services became a healing balm as I walked through grief.
I’m blessed to be part of a community that understands and honors that not everything in our faith journey feels like joy and blessings and that the “most wonderful time of the year” is sometimes the most painful. There are many; however, without a holy space to feel seen and held in their experience at the holidays, which is a void that a service called Blue Christmas has attempted to fill.
I first learned of this service when I was a graduate student. One of my aunts shared a copy of one she had attended with me and I loved the concept. Years ago, the service came back to my mind when facilitating the Depression, Anxiety & Trauma IOP at WECHC. I recommended it to the clients in the program and several of them were brave enough to attend one that same week at a church they didn’t attend. I think they came back and said there were maybe 3 other people present and while they found it comforting, they also found it a bit uncomfortable.
When I’m struggling, one of the last things I want to do is go some place new and unfamiliar, which is why this year, Water’s Edge Bridging Foundation is offering a Blue Christmas service on December 21 at Water’s Edge Counseling & Healing Center. We hope that members of our community, whether clients, team members, friends and family, or others from the area will find some solace and warmth from the pain that can feel just that much worse this time of year.
Come as you are, no need to pretend or be anything other than how you are. You are welcome and loved in this space.
A Blue Christmas
December 21st (Thursday) 5:15-6:15 p.m. Group Room 3 at WECHC
*This service is open to all at no fee (free-will offering for WEBF) and will integrate a Christian belief system.