Grieving during the holiday season ...

Grieving during the holiday season …

This has been a different kind of holiday season for me, and I couldn’t put my finger on why.

Until now.

My glance fell onto the many Names of Jesus candles I’d collected over the nine years I was an integral part of our annual Women of the Word December gathering. It was always a special time where God used the name I received to speak life into my soul during the season and into the new year.

Sorrow welled up and tears slipped down my cheeks as it hit me;


For the last 18 months I’ve been walking with my husband and his grief over the loss of the ministry he launched 36+ years ago. I didn’t really see the impact it had on me.

Until now.

I had to look up the grief symptoms to see where I was sitting, and there were 3 that resonated:

  • Numbness and detachment
  • Bitterness about the loss
  • Lack of trust in others


I’ve spent the last few weeks looking over my 2023 journal entries to see what God is saying He wants for my 2024 word of the year and I guess that exercise caused me to experience afresh a lot of the loss and pain I avoided by being busy.

The final quarter of this year brought a one-two punch in early September with battles in the business that seemed insurmountable (praise God they weren’t but it did not feel that way!) and then just days later my husband is forced to resign from his position (which we were not prepared for or planning on) … it felt like from every angle we were “under siege” … however, His words from Psalm 31 described it all perfectly:

Blessed be the Lord, for He has shown me His loving devotion in a city under siege. (Psalm 31:21)

Halfway through November He began bringing scriptures into my daily reading speaking VICTORY to my heart. I believe He was preparing me for the overwhelming grief that was heading my way over these holidays, from the sale of our beloved sailboat right before Thanksgiving to the loss of my church home of 9 years as well as the tradition of Christmas as I’ve known it since we married.

As I began to study, I found in my Logos Software:

The primary biblical assertion is that victory belongs to God (Jon. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:54–57; Rev. 7:10). This is succinctly expressed in the phrase ‘the battle is the Lord’s’ (1 Sa. 17:47), i.e. victory belongs exclusively to the Lord: it is his to bestow at will.

Watching Him bring victory out of the business challenges of the fall was a sight to behold. Had we not walked through the struggles where we felt completely under siege, experiencing His loving devotion and standing on His Word, embracing His continued sanctification as a team, we would have never found the areas we needed to improve, all glory to God!

So I am walking into 2024 trusting that He will bring victory despite all the losses and pain I feel engulfed by right now. After all, HE IS the Romans 8:28 God who works ALL THINGS together for good (even the really hard and painful losses) for those who love Him (I DO!) and are called according to His purposes (and I AM!).

So as I connect all the dots that bring clarity to my grief and the truth of the triggers from my brother’s suicide over the Christmas holidays a few years back, as well as all the betrayal I watched come our way, I am grateful that God can make sense of the grief symptoms and is especially close to me during this time. And He will, I can count on it, use all of this pain for my good and His glory.

Are these holidays hard for you too? How do you manage the grief that is present and allow it to help you grow in Him?

Thanks for spending time with me today!

Athena Dean Holtz
Welcome, I'm Athena!

I start each day by tithing the first hour to the Lord in prayer, reading the word, doing word studies of the Text, and asking God how I can live out what I am reading. This time is usually met with meditation on devotionals that are usually written by dead guys like Oswald Chambers, CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, AW Tozer, and Andrew Murray.

Right now, I’m reading a daily devotional with a friend called Tozer on the Almighty God for my focus for the day. It's fun to see individually what pulls us in to spur one another on to good deeds!

The Bible is filled with action steps to walk out in practical and intentional ways. This sets my day in motion to walk it out! I hope this is your heart, too.

Consider this a personal invitation to join me in this journey!

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