When Erin Smalley lost her mother shortly before Christmas, the pain was almost unbearable. But everything changed when she slowly discovered the gifts her mom had collected.

Erin’s story can help those grieving any loss this time of year, even those who grieve the children they never met because of abortion or miscarriage.

“If you know where to look, you will find that there are always gifts left behind, and always a reason to love.”

Erin shares some practical steps to peace:

•  Plan ahead. Come up with a game plan to survive the season. You may not want to attend every party or decorate every corner. Give yourself permission to celebrate in a way that helps not hurts.

•  Listen to and maybe even laugh others. Be clear with others about what you want in the moment — a listening ear or a bit of laughter may be all you need to ease the sadness you feel. Everyone is going through something and grief divided is always easier to bear.

•  Set appropriate expectations and boundaries, and rely on friends or other supporters to share difficult emotions as they come up.

You can only change yourself. It’s easy to think you can change insensitive or offensive family members, but the truth is that you cannot! Think ahead about what you can do to adjust your behavior when interacting with difficult people in difficult situations.

Highlight : When holiday happiness hurts

When holiday happiness hurts

From Erin’s bio:

Erin Smalley serves in the Marriage and Family Formation department at Focus on the Family. Erin is a coauthor of The Wholehearted Wife. She is married to Dr. Greg Smalley, and he and Erin have led intensive marriage seminars around the world and trained pastors, professionals and lay leaders how to effectively work with married and engaged couples. Married since 1992, the Smalleys live in Colorado with their three daughters, Taylor, Maddy and Annie, and their son, Garrison. The Smalleys, who with help overcame their own struggles together early on, make a point to study a marriage book together every Christmas.

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