words by: Ferree Hardy
Are you one to notice that, here in the Northern Hemisphere, on December 21, the sun is at its lowest point? Some call it our “shortest day.” Of course, the day is still twenty-four hours long; there’s just less sunlight. The opposite is June 21, our “longest day.” One advantage of these shorter December days is the opportunity to light up our homes and streets with Christmas lights and candles. The darkness is what makes the lights so beautiful.
It’s a bit like widowhood. Days of mourning create a velvety black backdrop against which the happy memories seem to shine and sparkle. Such contrasts bring profound depth and beauty to our eyes and souls.
Christmastime reminds me of another contrast too. Did you know that there were four hundred years between the end of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ? Centuries of silence from God; the heavens were still, God’s breath had no words—all prophecies had been spoken. But when Jesus was born, the silence was broken by a sky filled with cheering angels!
Widows and widowers today can feel that same season of God’s silence. Four days can seem like four hundred years—cheering angels are just as rare. But there’s hope for those who know Him. Tragedy can change to contentment; the inner wasteland of loneliness can be filled with the presence of Immanuel—our Savior’s Christmas name, which means “God with us.” And grief cannot exist in Heaven, where God will wipe away every tear.
Yet holidays are difficult. The contrast between the present and the past is immense. The house was noisy and full, now it’s so empty it almost echoes. In years past, there was a hand to hold, a shoulder to encircle, a loved one to lie in bed with at night. Now the bedsheets stay cold on that side. The children cry as we helplessly wish for a band-aid to heal their invisible wounds. Decisions that used to be made together are now doubled in weight and worry for the spouse who is left behind.
The contrasts are hard. The sunshine was too short. The present darkness is too long.
A widow friend named Mindy found her first Christmas very difficult. Her husband John had died in July of a massive heart attack. It was her birthday, and he’d wanted to take her out to dinner…
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Ferree Hardy has helped thousands of widows through her book, “Postcards from the Widows’ Path,” small groups, speaking, and personal coaching, but touching one life at a time is what matters most to her. She holds a BA from Moody Bible Institute, and was a pastor’s wife in Ohio for over twenty years before her first husband died. She’s happily remarried now, and her readers know that moving seems to have become a hobby for her. But she also enjoys backyard chickens, aims to read fifty books a year, and loves to bake. Learn more by visiting her blog.