A Faith Leader’s Perspective
Guiding individuals with grief during the holidays
This is the “merry” season for some people, but the holiday season can be difficult for individuals who have suffered losses. Grief poses a challenge for both the person affected by it and their loved ones. The Mental Health Association of Fauquier County (MHAFC) team sat down with Rev. Vinicent D. Holland, board member with MHAFC, pastor for Shiloh Baptist Church in Woodville and an associate pastor for First Baptist Church in Warrenton, to discuss this important topic.
When Rev. Holland provides guidance to individuals he first uncovers if a person is a believer or nonbeliever, as this will affect how he helps them. “It is important not to just hand out scriptures, instead spend time and get to know them personally. But the biggest thing is to just be available. I am not a counselor, but I can provide support and guidance from a pastoral perspective.” For those in need of a counselor, he suggests Spiritual Care Support Ministries.
There are a variety of losses that lead to sadness during the holidays, or anytime. Loss can include a person, a job, a relationship with a friend or partner. Rev. Holland recommended that it is important to help people remember the “small victories and draw on the positives.” A small victory could simply be dining with a friend or family member, or engaging in a social activity. “I want to help people avoid being alone for long periods of time,” he said.
He suggested individuals make a conscious effort to schedule time for their grief, daily if necessary, and for as long as necessary. “Don’t feel guilty about grieving. Scripture says you must grieve so Christ can come,” he said. “But I do ask people to schedule time to grieve and time NOT to grieve each day.”
Rev. Holland also encourages exploring favorite or new activities during your time of grief. “Cooking, music, or another activity is a way to help manage grief,” he said. “By opening yourself up to something new, you are allowing yourself to find some peace and happiness, even in your sorrow.”
Blue Christmas Services
On Dec. 21, 2022, the Warrenton United Methodist Church is offering a Blue Christmas service. This service is for lamentation, reflection and grief. The service is about remembering those who were lost and loved – to recall faces, voices and the memories that are held dearly. Rev. Holland suggested attending this service, or one similar at another congregation may be helpful to those who have suffered a loss.
“Reach out to support systems when times are challenging,” he shared. He encourages individuals to meet with their own faith leaders to discuss their sadness and also to look at the resources in the community for local support groups and even online support systems.
Try to end each day with something good. “You are still able to empower yourself to have the kind of day you want to have, even during times of grief. Remember you are living now as a reflection of those who have gone. It is a reflection of those who have poured love into you. The joy is in that you have memories that no one can take from you. You can choose the best memories on the worst days, and that is always available without cost,” Rev. Holland said.
“(We) are called to minister to people in their weakest hours and their exciting hours too. You can’t expect the sunshine without the rain,” he detailed. “When I have sat down with someone and talked, and you see the weight lift a little, you see you made a difference and that’s what matters.”
Explore Common Threads, an article about a group of community faith leaders and individuals.