Oh, it’s a holly, jolly Christmas – it’s the best time of the year! Right?
That may be the case for many people, but it’s not true for everyone, says Knox United Church’s Reverend Jennifer Ferguson.
With the emphasis on being around your loved ones during the holidays, people who don’t have access to that connection for whatever reason can feel particularly isolated.
2019 marks the third year that the Parksville church will be offering their ‘Blue Christmas’ service – an event specially for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
This year’s event takes place on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 3 p.m.
“Christmas is not always easy for everybody. It’s a high rate of suicide, Christmas time, because that’s when the expectation is that everybody has family to go to and be a part of. And that isn’t necessarily true,” said Ferguson.
To help ease the difficulties that the holidays can bring for those who are grieving, Knox United has put together a special event that allows people to come and grieve in peace, without having to fake a smile.
“If this is the first year that your loved one’s not going to be there, then it’s a particularly sentimental time. I find as people age, it becomes much more of a sentimental time because Christmas is remembering all the times when everybody that you loved was there. And now they’re not,” said Ferguson.
The service will give people an opportunity to light candles and sing. The lights are kept low. There will be songs performed by local vocalist Pamela Brown, and an encouraging talk by Ferguson about loss and healing.
The service will also feature a healing team.
“It’s just a time to come and just know that there are other people that are grieving at this time, too. Just to be in the presence of other people that are experiencing loss, so that they don’t have to put on that everything’s fine, happy face, get into the holiday spirit. You don’t have to put on that fake pretense of everything’s fine. A holly jolly Christmas – it’s not a holly jolly for everybody.”
The service is followed by a reception with coffee, tea, goodies and prayer shawls that people are welcome to take home.
Ferguson says that in past years the service has drawn approximately 40 people. People don’t have to have a prior connection to the church to attend.
She shared the story of one woman who attended last year who had just lost her husband. She hadn’t been to Knox United before, but came anyway and found the experience incredibly healing.
“She was just so grateful for that opportunity. I did the prayer and laying on of hands and energy work for her, it was just so good, because she’d lost her husband after so many so many years, and it was going to be a lonely time for her,” said Ferguson.
“She said it was just nice to be in the presence of other people who were experiencing loss, and it was OK.”
The service will also feature a slideshow of photos of lost loved ones, submitted by those attending the service.
Anyone interested in submitting a photo has until Thursday (today) to submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Knox United Church is located at 345 Pym St. in Parksville.