When the Holidays bring Grief and Sadness

This is the last installment of my month of stories of the Holidays.

We must remember that Christmas is not a happy time for all people but can bring about feelings of grief, sadness, and depression. the nearly two years have been difficult for a lot of people in more ways than one.

My friend, Dar Myers, tells her stories of grief and how best to deal with it, not only during this time of year but all year long.

 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 KJV

COVID-19. Delta variant. Omicron variant. Country lockdown. Mandates. Loss of loved ones. Unrest and dissension in our Country. Authority in question. Law enforcement officers were ambushed and killed. Claims of bias and profiling. Rogue police officers. Demand for defunding of police. Stress. Chaos. Unanswered questions. Uncertainty of future.

Grief and Sadness

All the above can bring sadness and grief to many individuals. Today’s society has various opinions on how to manage sadness and grief and is not afraid to offer their advice. Entering the holiday season, society’s advice adds pressure to individuals to suppress grief and sadness.

This advice of they’re in a better place, it’ll pass, it gets better with time, or it’s been a year, it’s time to move on, is meant out of love. But most times, it causes more anguish.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18 KJV

My World Stopped

On September 24, 2015, my world changed in a matter of five-and-a-half hours. My cell phone rang at 9:00 am; my sister, Robin, was on the line. A call from her this early was a bad omen.

Shocked, all I heard was “Jimmy, my brother, an Okaloosa County Sheriff Deputy, was shot while serving a domestic violence injunction at an attorney’s office.” Robin said they transported him to a hospital, but she had no further information.

I headed for Shalimar, Florida, the community he lived and served.

Once I got to Tallahassee, Robin called again, explaining Jimmy had died at 2:30 pm. He was shot three times, twice in the back and once in the back of the head. I headed back to Jacksonville, Florida, to await arrangements.

My world stopped.

Over the next nine months, I felt the bullets that riddled Jimmy were catalysts as flint to fire. Unable to attend the funeral due to poor health, the televised funeral allowed my mom to watch. In December 2015, she died of a broken heart; the official cause of death was a heart attack.

In June 2016, a friend of eighteen years died of a sudden heart attack and two weeks later, a fire engine driving down Mayport Road in Mayport, Florida, found my daughter’s father dead in a creek. An autopsy ruled the cause of death as a heart attack.

I was reeling, had no sense of control, and was numb. There was a sense of detachment so I could function for the sake of my daughter, who was in denial.

Memories flooded my conscious and subconscious minds. Most predominant was the sound of Taps, 16-gun salute, and Last Call. I quake, fill with sadness, and find myself shutting down to this day whenever I hear these.

Stifled Grief

Society today has what they call “Stifled Grief,” meaning we don’t speak about it. We put it in the past and try to get over it quickly so we can move on.

Most people assume grief and sadness have a solvable solution.

The new Model of Grief contends to find a middle ground, one where we can directly face the grief. By directly facing the grief, allowing the reality of grief to exist, we can focus on helping ourselves, and others, survive within or inside the pain.

Self-compassion is approaching ourselves, our inner experience with spaciousness, with the quality of allowing which has a quality of gentleness. Instead of our usual tendency to want to get over something, to fit it, to make it go away, the path of compassion is totally different. Compassion allows.

Robert Gonzalez, Reflections on Living Compassion

In David Kessler’s Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief (2019), the six stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and meaning. Finding meaning has the following components to assist in the processing:

  • It’s relative and personal
  • It takes time
  • It does not require understanding why a loved one died, or loss occurred
  • When you find out, it may not be worth what it cost you

Kessler indicated loss happens to you; meaning is what you make happen.

Love Does Not End with Death


Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Holidays and special occasions intensify feelings of loss, sadness, and personal. There are no guaranteed simple guidelines to take away the hurt. However, below are suggestions that may help.

  1. Talk about your grief. Ignoring the grief will not make it go away while talking about it often makes you feel better.
  2. Recognize your physical and psychological limits. Low energy and fatigue are residual effects. Respect and honor what messages your body is relaying to you.
  3. Avoid unnecessary stress. Do not overextend or isolate yourself. Make special time for yourself. Acknowledge “keeping busy” does not distract, but increases stress.
  4. Be with supporting, comforting people.
  5. Do what is right for you during the holidays. Focus on what you want to do, not what other want or expect you to do.
  6. Embrace your treasured memories. After the death of a loved one, memories are the best legacies that exist. Treasure them, don’t ignore them. Feel your feelings.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


Kessler, David. (2019). Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. ISBN13: 9781501192746

Living Observance Blog. (January 1, 2021). The New Model of Grief.


The Holy Bible. (2011), Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.

Wolfelt,  PhD., A.D. (N.D.) Helping yourself heal during the holiday season. Concerns of Police


Thank you so much for taking the time to read all the stories from my friends this month. I hope you enjoyed them and learned from them as I have done. May the Lord bless you in this coming New Year!

A Heavenly Hug

A Heavenly Hug

Today’s post is from my friend Cherrilynn Bisbano. She is part of my weekly Christmas posts. Her story is precious and amazing. It is truly a story of God’s love for us–working through a child. Please enjoy her story!

Merry Christmas!

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 31:24

“Your son saved my life,” my friend whispered to me after the church service.

     A few days earlier we were at a Christmas Dinner together and my then eight-year-old son ran to her and gave her a big hug. Bonnie welcomed his interruption. I was curious why he clung to my friend because he did not hug strangers. Bonnie held tight. I deduced it was because I was standing with her and, after all, it was Christmas.

     “What do you mean, my son saved your life?” I touched her arm.

  My friend shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “Remember the party when your son ran hugged me?”

“Yes. Is that the first time you met him?” 

Placing her hand on top of the table to steady herself, she shared.

     “Yes, that was the first time. My life is horrible—my daughter and grandchildren don’t want me around for Christmas, and I am devastated. I was seriously thinking of ending it all. When your son hugged me, I felt the love of Jesus. I knew I would be OK. He truly saved my life”

I was speechless. We hugged, cried, and parted ways.

While driving home, I asked my son if he had met my friend before.

“No mommy, I like her; she is nice.”

“So, Michael, why did you run to hug her? I know you don’t hug people unless you know them?”

“Oh Mommy, God told me to do it!”

Tears of joy wet my cheeks as I praised God for my son’s courage.

The angel Gabriel interrupted Mary’s wedding preparation. He told her not to fear. He proclaimed she would conceive the Messiah.

“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”

Luke 1:30 NASB

Mary’s Courage

She revealed courage when she declared,

“Behold, the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”

She did not question the angel about the consequences of her holy pregnancy. The results could have lifelong ramifications if no one believed her. Her marriage could end, and people would have labeled her an adulterer and a liar.

Bravery led Mary on a spectacular journey.

God calls us to be courageous. The word in the original language is: ‘amats confirm, be courageous of good courage, steadfastly minded, to prevail.

I learned from my son that listening to God and believing is life-changing.

What is God calling you to do today?

Take Courage.

Meet Cherrilynn Bisbano

Cherrilynn is an award-winning writer, speaker, and coach. She loves encouraging her brothers and sister to stand firm and shine for Jesus. She is an expert in Book Proposals and memoirs. Her book Shine Don’t Whine is helping many women overcome fear, anxiety, perfectionism, and worry. She considers it an honor to be published twice in Chicken Soup for the Soul-; Award-winning books, Kiss Guilt GoodBye, Heart Reno, Breaking the Chains, and Get to the Margins Author’s

Anthology. She is a monthly contributor to Arise Daily Devotions, Blue Ridge Writers Blog, and VineWords.net.

Cherrilynn proudly served in the military for twenty years, earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her seventeen-year-old son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 23 years, Michael, Sr. She loves Christ, chocolate, coffee, and cats.


Website: https://cherrilynnbisbano.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherrilynnbisbano/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cherrilynn3/

Twitter @bisbanowrites

 LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/cherrilynn-bisbano-569b8838/

Shine Don’t Whine


Long Expected- Hope Fulfilled

Long Expected- Hope Fulfilled

For the month of December, you will see more posts than usual in your email. This month I wanted to celebrate Christ’s birth by getting some friends to share a story or posts this month.

I have six guest posts for the month of December. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.

This week’s post is from Sharon Beth Brani. She writes a beautiful story of adoption–after many years of waiting for a child, she gets a Christmas miracle. Please enjoy her story.

The Wait

I spun the globe as I sat on the living room rug. “Where do you want to go?” the social worker had asked.

    The question puzzled me. Where? After many, many years of longing to hold my own sweet-smelling baby, it almost seemed foolish to think about. A broken marriage and, along with it, dashed dreams of that happy family. Where? That wasn’t the question. It was more if God would choose to bless me. Up till now, the answer had been no.

     “Lord, I’m willing to go anywhere,” I whispered aloud. With that, the adoption wheels rolled and now I was sitting in a small room upstairs in the Russian orphanage with three other couples. Waiting. Longing. Simply.

The clock ticked slowly on this Christmas Eve.

     My thoughts wandered back to my family in the states. I knew they were praying for me as I completed the adoption of my 6-month-old daughter. The tension was great. We waited for the signal to quietly get our little ones and slip them out of the orphanage into the frigid cold—waiting to catch the overnight train back to Moscow—waiting to get everything completed so we could bring our children home.

    On this Christmas Eve many years ago, the waiting was painful—the longing even more so. Would disappointment win again?

     The clock ticked slowly, and I watched as the hands moved to 11:00 pm. When would they give the signal? Would this be the Christmas I’d remember for always?

    Many years ago, Jesus was born into this dark and hurting world. He came. Quietly. Simply. While the world slept, all the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest.” The long waiting was over — Hope was fulfilled.

   Many years ago, Jesus was born into this dark and hurting world. He came. Quietly. Simply. While the world slept, all the angels sang, “Glory to God in the Highest.” The long waiting was over — Hope was fulfilled. #ThisSideofHeaven #SharonBethBrani #LongExpectedHopeFulfilled

 Hope Fulfilled


I rubbed my hands together and caught the anxious eyes of another mom-to-be. We were all tense.

    Suddenly, the door opened, and the Russian facilitator gave a simple nod. My heart jumped.

    Joseph knew when it was time. He never forgot it.

    Mary knew and leaned in with all her trust in her Lord.

    And I knew.

    I followed the others up the darkened steps to the baby room. Then the nurse stepped out into the hall and put the warm, sleepy body of my baby girl in my arms. Quickly, I removed her Russian clothes and dressed her in a new pink traveling outfit. Wrapping her in a soft pink blanket, I picked her up and walked down the hallway to the door. The door that led to life. And love. And a whole new world.

    The cold hit my face as I carefully walked down the steps into the night. And my heart kept saying, “Thank you, God. Thank you for this amazing gift. Glory to God.”

    Suddenly, the wonder of what was happening filled my soul, and I glanced heavenward. It seemed at that moment as if I was all alone with God. Snowflakes circled me and pure joy overcame my soul.

    Then I heard the softest sound that seemed like music. I listened carefully as more snowflakes fell around me. Then I heard it again. It seemed like the sound of angels singing. Once more, God had broken into the darkness, giving hope. A hope that would forevermore change not only my life but the lives of many around the world. My heart overflowed and still does with the wonder of His faithfulness and forever love.

Meet Sharon Beth Brani

Sharon Brani is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Virginia, a Board Certified Coach, an educator, published freelance writer, and speaker whose life is committed to helping people discover the way life is meant to be.

She gets excited teaching people how to develop a greater sense of purpose, peace, and passion in their lives.

Sharon is the mother of two daughters whom she adopted from Russia. As a nurturer, she is well equipped to coach parents at every stage of the adoption process. Her personal experience as a single parent as well as her career as a teacher for over twenty years gives her a rich foundation from which to counsel, coach, and consult.

Her book: The Unforgettable Christmas Journey


Facebook/Instagram: Sharon Brani CoachingWebsite: https://heartprintscoaching.com/

An Angel in Waiting

An Angel in Waiting

For the month of December, you will see more posts than usual in your email. This month I wanted to celebrate Christ’s birth by getting some friends to share a story or posts this month.

I have six guest posts for the month of December. I hope you enjoy their stories as much as I did.

Whitney Ward’s story is touching and supernatural. Do you believe you have met an angel? Read her story!

My eyes opened in shock as the tube in my nose gave my body the oxygen it so desperately lacked. I immediately noticed the eight doctors and nurses crammed into my tiny hospital room. “What’s my hemoglobin?” I asked in a hoarse whisper.

My mother leaned close and caressed my brow. “You remember a few years ago when your hemoglobin was 4.8, and you were really sick? Well, it’s kind of like that now.”

Nightmare in the ICU

I suffered from rare autoimmune and immune diseases, so battling a low hemoglobin blood count was a hurdle I jumped over many times. A normal hemoglobin range is between 11 to 14. It’s the part of the blood that carries the oxygen throughout the body and to the brain, so when it’s low the body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function and in extreme cases, the mind can’t remain lucid.

Even in my sickly state, I saw the hopelessness in the medical professionals’ eyes. I was aware of their nervous glances.

I understood for the past two hours I was locked inside my body, unable to speak, incapable of doing anything but stare.

The deafening silence of the doctors and nurses gave me the real answer: This was nothing like the time when my hemoglobin dropped to 4.8 — it was worse.

“Do you know your name?” the ICU attending compassionately asked to see if I remembered my identity.

I shook my head, “It’s Whitney.”

“Where are you?” The doctor wanted to see if I was in touch with reality.

“I’m on the Hemoc floor.”

“What day is it?” Was my sense of time still intact?

“It’s Tuesday night.”

I answered the questions correctly, but the test I just aced didn’t change the nightmare we were all living: My hemoglobin had dropped to 2.8 and I was fighting for my life.

The ICU staff rushed me to their unit. On the way, the specialists prepared my parents for what lay ahead. I would have to receive several units of blood, the IV treatment I took every six months, and an antibiotic. I had never taken this antibiotic before and it commonly causes an allergic reaction where a person’s whole body turns red.

They warned my parents it was imperative I didn’t experience any reactions to the treatments they were administering because my body could take no more trauma.

This news devastated my parents because they were painfully aware I had always had an allergic reaction during blood transfusions and to my IV treatment—so how would I survive?

The Angel in the Waiting Room

The staff directed my father and mother to the waiting room while they took me to a room to be hooked up to machines. The only other person in the waiting room was a man sitting at a computer. This was unusual because the ICU was maxed to capacity with patients. My parents were very familiar with waiting rooms, so they knew there should have been more family members holding vigil for their loved ones.

Sitting down, they took advantage of a nearly empty waiting room and began calling family and friends, asking them to touch Heaven on my behalf.

As my mother talked to one of her dear friends and shared the heartbreaking details, she began sobbing. My father took the phone from her to finish explaining the dire situation.

Suddenly, the man got up from the computer and walked across the room to my mother.

“What’s the child’s name?” he asked compassionately.

My mother stared into the clearest and bluest eyes she had ever seen. “It’s Whitney.”

“Okay, I’ll put her on The Prayer Chain.” Then he turned around, walked out of the waiting room, and my parents never saw him again.

He didn’t say I’ll put her on my church’s prayer chain or I’ll let my pastor know—he said The Prayer Chain.

The next night, the ICU waiting room was completely full.

Living Life to the Fullest

My parents are convinced the man was an angel sent from God. For the first time in my life, right after he left, I did not have a single reaction to my treatment, transfusions, nor did my body turn red from the new antibiotic. My body did a complete 180, and I  got better quicker than any of my doctors thought medically possible.

They admitted me into the hospital on Monday, December 19th, 2011, and I got to come home on Saturday, December 24th, 2011 — The best Christmas gift ever.

Two weeks later, I went back to college to finish my degree, and in May 2012; I graduated with a Bachelor’s in creative writing.

Looking back at that Christmas seven-ten years ago, I marvel at the timing and pieces God intricately sewed together during that week so I could remain on this earth. #WhitneyWard #ThisSideofHeaven #AnAngelinWaiting #ChristmasMiracle

Looking back at that Christmas seven-ten years ago, I marvel at the timing and pieces God intricately sewed together during that week so I could remain on this earth.

The best part of the story, though?

God placed His healing hand on my diseased body, and I went from fighting for my life to living life to the fullest.

I never have doubted when the miraculous turnaround happened in my body—The minute the kind man told my mother he would put my name on The Prayer Chain. Not everyone gets to attend to angels unaware, but I’m so thankful God gave my parents and me the peace and assurance we needed in our darkest hour through an angel in the waiting room.

Meet Whitney:

Whitney Ward

Whitney Ward is a public speaker and writer who seeks to encourage her audiences to overcome their circumstances. As someone who has a disability, it is her wish to give hope to others with illness so they will persevere and scale every mountain they face.

Hope That Sees Us Through

Hope That Sees Us Through

For the month of December, you will see more posts than usual in your email. This month I wanted to celebrate Christ’s birth by getting some friends to share a story or posts this month.

I have six guest posts for the month of December. Not all of their stories are happy, because we know that bad things can still happen around the holidays. We must all be aware that some people are hurting during Christmas. I hope all of these posts speak to you in different ways.

The second post for December is from Betty Kulich.

As we approach this Advent season and the lighting of the Advent Candles, it reminds us of the Christmas Story, the birth of our Savior, and Jesus Christ. The very first candle is the Hope candle. It reminds us of the provisions for eternal life we gain by making Jesus our Lord.

But what about hope for the current season we are dealing with? What if you need hope in a current troubling or trying circumstance? Is there a provision of hope for now?

In the week leading up to Thanksgiving and the beginning of family celebrations, I needed a fresh supply of hope and a deeper depth to my faith storehouse—not for eternal life, but for hope in a serious family crisis right now. My 47-year-old daughter had a massive stroke that left her unable to function as a mother and nurse. Unfortunately, being alone at home, she wasn’t found until dinner time, long after the window for the miracle shot that reduces the stroke’s effects.

What was her future going to be? How would this crisis forever change the family dynamics? My daughter has four children; a single young adult struggling to make it on his own, a senior in pre-med at university feeling the stress of good grades and upcoming exams, a sophomore in high school trying to find his adult identity and a second grader who is the center of the household. All of them need a healthy mom. I needed hope that going forward life could be good for my daughter and family.

Hope that is an anchor

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Hebrews 6:19 (NKJV)

Jesus is my Lord, and He is my daily peace. But now. I needed more than just peace. Jesus was the only one who could give me a hopeful future for my daughter and family–an anchor in this life storm and sea of unknown outcomes. I needed Jesus to be big for a big situation. My soul needed firm and secure hope.

I needed Jesus to be big for a big situation. My soul needed firm and secure hope. #BettyKulich #Hope #HopethatSeesUsThrough #Christmastime #ThisSideofHeaven

The emotions of a mother’s heart for her helpless, hurting child threaten to become a raging storm filled with waves of grief, winds of torment and flashes illuminating scary glimpses of possible crippling aftereffects. My firm foundation was suddenly quaking, shaking, and swaying like a magnitude seven earthquake.

The future hopes were crumbling even as they rushed her down for a head scan while doctors spoke of brain swelling and emergency surgery. Scriptures had to become a reality at a level I never needed before. My hope had to become anchored and tethered, my faith firm and secure.

Looking for the Glorious Hope

“This same grace teaches us how to live each day… and it equips us to live self-controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age. For we continue to wait for the fulfillment of our hope in… our great God and Savior, Jesus.”

Titus 2:12 -13 (TPT)

I cried out to Jesus to be the Rock that securely anchored my emotions, so I could weather this storm. Immediately, I felt a fresh new installment of faith, peace, and hope come, firmly securing my thoughts and emotions.

Self-control arose when all I wanted was to collapse into a puddle of tears. Where I was weak and wanting someone to comfort me, Jesus comforted the four grandchildren through me. Hope pushed back the darkness, bringing calmness and rays of glorious hope for life from this death of future dreams.

Hope Has a Name

“Lord, the only thing I can do is wait and put my hope in you. I wait for your help, my God.”

Psalm 38:15 (TPT)

There is a song titled Hope Has a Name.

“On mountains high and valleys low, my soul will rest, my confidence, in You alone. Hope has a name; His name is Jesus.”

Hope Has a Name

My hope and that of the family came to rest on Jesus Christ and what He will do in the days ahead. He alone can become our needed emotional strength, uniquely tailored for each of us. Only He could keep her brain from swelling necessitating a dangerous surgery. Additionally, I knew only Jesus could fix her body, creating pathways of blood flow and nerves so she could regain her ability to walk and use her arm and hand. Only Jesus, as the Creator of her body, could heal her.

Through this valley of the shadow of death, we could all pass, guided by Jesus, our Rock and Hope. Now this Christmas I will sing O Holy Night with a new understanding of “a thrill of hope, my weary soul rejoices.”

Hope will see me through the unknown days ahead. Hope is Jesus, and He is enough.

Meet Betty Kulich:

She is an ordained pastor and serves as an Associate Pastor, alongside her husband at the Redeemer’s church, Columbus, Ohio.  Married for 49 years, she has one daughter and four grandchildren. In addition to her responsibilities at the church, Betty serves as the Women’s Ministry Director for Harvest Preparation International Ministries of Sarasota, Florida for Mexico & Central America.  Winner of the 2021 CIPA Book Award for General Fiction and Winner of the 2020 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, she hosts short vlogs on Facebook called “Life Outside the Pages”.