About the Author

Mary is a writer and speaker who lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons – but lives because of God’s grace. She writes about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places at MaryCarver.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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  1. Mary,
    It is so easy to get consumed with the loss, the grief, the dysfunction that it takes our eyes off the good things around us and in particular the very awesome good thing – and that being Jesus. When my heart is heavy, I have to get tunnel vision and keep my eyes focused on Christ. The tree, the decorations, the music may make my heart melancholy, but looking to Jesus gives me hope. Even if our tears are the only offering we can bring this Christmas, God will honor that. He accepts broken hallelujahs. Praying for all who are suffering or grieving this time of year. “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” (John 14:18).
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  2. With this one piece of advice you have captured so much truth: ” Close your eyes and feel it for a moment. It’s okay to do that, really. But then open them to the good that is still around you.” Every holiday on this planet, every big occasion in our families, no matter how joyful the event, we always seem to stand with one foot in celebration and the other in lament. Thank you for this invitation to open our eyes to the joyful without denying the sadness and the disappointment. In Christ, we are given the tools to hold them both in our heart and to give thanks.
    Blessings to you!

    • Isn’t it interesting how we’re able to feel both at once? Doesn’t seem like it would be possible and yet, here we are, joyful and sad at the same time! Thank you for being here today, Michele!

  3. Mary,

    The holidays are super hard for many. I think of the many elderly i nursing homes & assisted living facilities. Some don’t have any family to come visit them. Sure the places get decorated all pretty & nice music is played. It isn’t the same without family or friends to come sit with you. For my family the holidays are hard as hubby works in a hospital and must do 3 holidays a year. That makes it difficult to plan much. My family all lives out of state/country. We don’t get together except for funerals & they are done. I’m not a big fan of all the hoopla surrounding Christmas. The commercialism of it. I listen to Christian music & focus on the reason for the season. A savior who left the splendor of Heaven to come to broken Earth. Making my focus even more on Him I try to get an elderly or angel tree person & buy a gift for someone needy. It is my way of shining God’s light in this dark world.

    Blessings 🙂

  4. I struggle with Christmas as it was the last time I saw my daddy before he was taken from me by a senseless act of violence and I was left with the shell of his body. He has a severe brain injury and is a paralpeligic who lives in a personal care home near me. Each Christmas season I miss him so much and I Seem to always have a waterfall of tear just behind the next blink. It’s hard to not lose myself in the “it’s not fair” game but I try to always remember that Jesus didn’t have a “fair hand” dealt to him either, dying for my sins. I try to hold on to one day I will see my daddy in Glory and he will be whole and pain free. I do try to close my eyes and capture that all and I hold onto it as long as I possibly can and I know that His peace and joy will come over me many times this season.

    • I’m so sorry, Jodi. That is so hard. May God’s love carry you and your family close to his heart as you keep walking through this and every season.

    • Jodi,
      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I thought I’d share with you my dad’s last words to me a few days before he passed on Christmas, “Remember when…..”he wanted me to remember the happy times, and I’ll pray for you and your dad that through love the happy times will prevail……….
      I hope that your day will be blessed,
      Penny

    • Jodi,
      Praying for you during this painful season. The holidays have a way of accentuating pain. Praying that you may have tunnel vision to keep your eyes focused on Jesus vs. circumstances and that you would let God wrap you in His comforting arms. He sees and knows your pain and one day will wipe away your tears and make your sweet daddy whole.
      Blessings,
      Bev xo

    • Oh, Jodi, that is so hard. I’m so sorry for your loss! This world – and your situation, specifically – are absolutely not fair, and I think it’s reasonable and probably healthy to grieve all you’ve lost. I pray your holidays bring you some unexpected joy this year, as well as comfort from God as you miss your dad.

  5. Thank you my friend. For not glossing over the tough stuff and putting a shiny face on it.
    It’s hard.
    It can stink.
    It’s okay to feel the feels.
    It’s also okay to smile.
    Love you.
    Xx

    • Love you, too! And I’m so glad to have friends like you who remind me that the tough stuff IS hard but that with Jesus, we can make it through. xoxo

  6. Thank you for this, Mary. It was just what I needed to hear today, and I am sure many others needed this encouragement and reassurance as well.

    Jodi, I said a heartfelt prayer for you and your daddy. May he sense your presence and your love when you are there with him. May God give you His peace and surround you with His love and strength.

    Praying we all make and take time for quiet meaningful reflections of the Babe in the manger during this busy season…

  7. Allow the feelings then open “our eyes to the good in the stillness that is Christ with us forever ‘n ever”…. Sound advise to manage those blues that do come at Christmas time, often hidden behind pressures to be cheery! I’m taking that advise to heart! Thank you Mary.

  8. I read your journal above and there are parts I agree with and parts I don’t. One’s feelings are very different upon the death of a child. Our son died in the summer of 2017. In January of 2018, I joined a Bereavement Group for Mom’s who have lost a child. I wasn’t sure I was prepared to hear their stories without bursting into tears. It has been a most tearful, yet healing journey. We meet on a more infrequent basis now. We can attest to the fact that all holidays are awful for us. No one understands our grief or our feelings about the various holidays. While others celebrate with their families and children, ours aren’t coming home ever again. Some mom’s have turned against religion questioning where was God when their child was dying. Some of us hold on tight in the comfort of Jesus’s arms and are thankful for his love, guidance, strength and support now and in the days to come. Christmas is the hardest holiday because the song words hit home and tears flow. Their birthdays, anniversary of their deaths, Mother’s Day, etc. are all too painful. Some people ask if we are over it yet? We will never be over our child’s deaths be it a baby, a child, an adolescent or an adult – time is not a healer. Each year their deaths become more painful. We are still numb inside; yet some of us rally and rise up, because we have other children at home and/or grandchildren. So we make the effort to decorate our homes and celebrate in our own ways, Christmas with our families.
    Katherine

    • Mary,
      Thank-you for so kindly taking the time to piece together these words.
      I hope that you all have a blessed day.
      Penny

    • My heart truly goes out to you, sweet Katherine. I’m always shocked at what some people say to horribly grieving hearts – especially in the early days, but even today,10 years later, even by close family members. Grief certainly has taught me many things and changed my heart in ways I never expected, but it was excruciatingly difficult, as I know it is for you now. My only prayer for months was “God, help me” as I truly had no other words to offer. I feel your pain and will pray for comfort, peace, and healing, and whatever else God knows you need today. Much love and prayers, Katherine.

    • Katherine,
      You have experienced the worst fear of every mother. I can’t even begin to fathom your pain or how you put one foot in front of the other?? I do praise that you have chosen to turn toward God in your grief – to find your comfort in His loving arms. My heart aches for those who turn away and lose a precious lifeline. I am lifting you up right now as you face Christmas…may God’s love surround you and give you some measure of peace and grace.
      Love and prayers,
      Bev xx

    • Katherine, I am so very sorry to read about your loss. I’m grateful you have found a group of people going through similar loss, but I understand that every holiday continues to be heartbreaking. I pray you find some comfort and peace this year, even as you still miss your son deeply.

  9. Oh Mary, thank you for this. Yes and Amen to it all. For all of us who are struggling, I lift prayers for peace and joy in the midst of the hard.

  10. My heart truly goes out to you, sweet Katherine. I’m always shocked at what some people say to horribly grieving hearts – especially in the early days, but even today,10 years later, even by close family members. Grief certainly has taught me many things and changed my heart in ways I never expected, but it was excruciatingly difficult, as I know it is for you now. My only prayer for months was “God, help me” as I truly had no other words to offer. I feel your pain and will pray for comfort, peace, and healing, and whatever else God knows you need today. Much love and prayers, Katherine.

  11. Thank you for these words.
    I didn’t realise how many people find Christmas difficult.
    Christmas will be hard for my family this year, it will be the first one without my Dad who passed away six months ago.

  12. Mary, I’m so grateful for your words, your understanding, your insight, your humor. Yes, there is room for full sorrow and full joy–at Christmas and any time of year. Christ is well acquainted with it all. So glad we can old space for it here too. xx

  13. Mary, so ever true what you said here. We miss the people who are no longer with us during this holiday. First year I must say are the hardest and this definitely will be my first without my bestie, my partner in crime. One thing that makes me smile is knowing that she is with the Prince of Peace. She is no longer physically here with us but her spirit lives on with all the beautiful memories of her. Christmas is her favorite holiday and so it will be tough but we must carry on. Prayers for all those who are hurting and grieving over a loss this season.

  14. Thank you so much Mary for voicing this and also for adding a note of hope!! This is our first Christmas without my dad, who died Dec 29th last year. Any prayers for our family are appreciated!! Lord I pray for all the families represented here.. may your comfort and presence increase upon us all this Christmas, amen.

    • Agnes, I understand this kind of grief. I lost my dad 8 years ago in January. Dec 26 was the last time I saw him. Praying for your family to experience the nearness of the Lord in new ways this Christmas as you continue to mourn.