On more than one occasion I have heard folks say, “Is it me, or does it seem like a lot of people die during the holidays?” I have never ‘fact checked’ if it is actually true that more people do die during this time of year, in part because for me it doesn’t matter. The loss of a loved one, whether it is near the holidays or in the middle of the summer, is never easy. And regardless of the proximity of when they die to Christmas, those first seasonal gatherings without them are still painful. My mother died a couple days after Christmas and my father in February, and for a period of time every subsequent gathering was a challenge.
I’m grateful that many of our faith communities are aware of, and provide meaningful support to, folks who feel a sense of loss this time of year. I have found the season of Advent with its focus on waiting, watching, and preparing, to be a healing balm as we pray in the Burial Office, “For all those whom we love but see no longer.”
As we prepare for the coming of the Christ child, may we do so with faith that many of our loved ones are already embracing the joys of heaven.