BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — While some holidays are joyous occasions, they can also be a time filled with immense grief and trauma, so many area churches and organizations have been preparing residents and parishioners for the range of emotions they may feel.
At this time of year, people may be grieving the loss of a loved one, an end to a relationship and other hardships.
At FirstPres Maumee, pastor Clint Tolbert is preparing to help his congregation handle the grief caused by these difficulties.
“An unrealistic view of what Christmas should be like is a challenge for everybody, especially those who are going through grief for all sorts of reasons, whether that’s the loss of a loved one, a recent divorce, a broken relationship with a child or a friend,” Tolbert said. “Rarely does life measure up to our expectations when our expectations are motivated by that Hallmark-esque picture.”
In a time when so many people are celebrating the season, wrapped in twinkling lights, bows and expected cheer, it can be difficult to manage the polar opposite of emotions.
There are certain expectations when it comes to holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other major life events, but those expectations can place pressure on people to feel a certain way during a difficult time in their life, Tolbert said. It also makes some feel alienated, he added.
Tolbert knows it’s common for some people to want to be left alone while grieving and that each process is different. He reminds members of his congregation, however, that they cannot do everything alone, especially this time of year.
“My practical counsel to people who are grieving is don’t go through it alone. Lean into the church, family or friends. It might not be easy. Nobody wants to cry in front of people, but community is really, really important,” Tolbert advised.
FirstPres (200 E. Broadway St., Maumee) will be hosting The Longest Night: A Blue Christmas Service on Wednesday, December 21 at 7:00 p.m. for those who might be grieving during this time.
The service will remind people that they are not alone, and they can turn to others in the church for assistance.
“We want to acknowledge the pain of their reality. They don’t have to try to cover it with tinsel and lights. It’s OK for this season to be hard, but hope will ultimately be found,” Tolbert said of the December 21 service.
In Whitehouse, Community of Christ Lutheran Church (6517 Finzel Rd., Whitehouse) will hold a Blue Christmas Evening Prayer on Wednesday, December 21 at 7:00 p.m. to help the congregation and whomever wishes to attend through the holiday season while grieving.
St. Joe’s Catholic Church (104 W. Broadway St., Maumee) will dedicate its December 21 service at 7:00 p.m. to its parishioners who have passed away. The Remembrance Service will take time to honor those who have been lost this year.
For those who celebrate Christmas, local churches will also be offering several other services dedicated to Christmastime.
FirstPres will hold three services at 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 24 and one at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, December 25.
Maumee United Methodist Church will also be holding a Traveler’s Christmas Eve Service on Thursday, December 22 at 7:00 p.m. for those who might be out of the area on the holiday. Additionally, services will be held on Christmas Eve at 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. as well as 10:30 a.m. on Christmas day.
St. Joe’s will also hold four services on December 24 at 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. and midnight along with a 10:00 a.m. service on December 25.
Community of Christ Lutheran Church will hold services at 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and at 10:30 a.m. on Christmas day.