In times of sorrow and loss, the Christmas time that so many look forward to can be a time that others dread. While many anticipate surprises and engage in gift giving, others would rather not anticipate anything other than that Christmas be gone – be over and done with. When you lose someone to death, you don’t feel like celebrating. It’s difficult to be thankful. Holiday times are very stressful.
There is another way of looking at this event and a Blue Christmas or Solace Service is one of them. We have attended a couple during December. This post reports on a service held at the Uniting Church, Hamilton (Newcastle) 22 Dec 2014. Steps in the service included lighting four candles under the theme of Naming the Pain or acknowledging the Sense of Loss to help focus attention and allow for healing to follow. The first candle reminded us of those we have loved and lost, allowing us to pause, to remember their names, their faces, their voices, the memories that bind us together; The second candle helps us to transform the pain of loss, the loss of relationships, the loss of health, the loss of hopes and dreams. We offer these losses up and seek to receive the gift of peace; The third candle we light to think of ourselves – reflecting on the grieving, the sadness, the anger, the disbelief, the downtimes, the hugs, kisses, handshakes of family and friends – all those who have stood by us. We give thanks for all the kindness and support; The fourth candle is lit to give light to the flicker of our faith and the gift of hope which the Christmas story offers to us.
We had the opportunity to write a memory, to embrace someone nearby, to massage the hands of a ‘neighbour’ at the service, to light a candle of our own, to sit in silence and ponder on the words of song, to feel the emotion of calming music. It was a special time. These events are not widely publicised, but for those who attend the sense of community is a source of strength to get them / us through this time of year that comes with ambiguous messages evoking mixed emotions. A Blue Christmas service helps us to manage our grief and get things into perspective. A link that may be useful: http://www.clergyleadership.com/hope/blueChristmas.cfm