The holiday season is nearly upon us, and that means turkey, thankfulness and time with family.
Though this time of year is supposed to be a season for joy and happiness, it can also be a time when many people struggle with holiday depression.
According to WebMD, “Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension… (and) others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year’s Day.”
The holidays are stressful at the best of times, and though people are more likely to attend church during the holidays, churches are not usually the first places people turn to when looking for help with depression or other holiday-related griefs. But maybe they should be.
A church in Texas tried a new way to reach people during this sometimes-difficult season. A news organization in Corpus Christi, Texas, reported that a local church held a special service the Sunday before Thanksgiving to encourage people who might be struggling with grief and depression during the holiday season.
Churches need to take a bigger role when it comes to the mental health of its congregation. According to a survey from Christianity Today, almost half of pastors either rarely or never speak about mental illness to their congregations. And even though holidays are difficult for those grieving a lost loved one, that subject is rarely addressed at the pulpit.
But the church is supposed to care for people mentally and physically, as well as spiritually.
It may be a sensitive subject within the church, but depression, especially during the holidays, ought to be addressed. Grief and depression are issues that people, Christian or not, will deal with throughout their lives, and the church has been charged to care for those who are struggling.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
That means Christians must acknowledge the emotional difficulties others are facing. This church in Texas set an excellent example for other churches, but the church as a whole must take action.
Until the church is able to speak openly about grief and mental illness, people who are struggling with grief or depression, especially during the holiday season, will go unacknowledged and unhealed.
This holiday season is a time to be thankful and joyous, but people must also recognize that this time of year is difficult for others, and the church has an obligation to reach out to those who are hurting.
The church needs to take this time of year to remember who they represent and acknowledge that being the hands and feet of Jesus sometimes means weeping with those who weep and comforting those who are grieving. Take a cue from a small church in Texas and allow grief and depression to be acknowledged, because people are hurting, and the church should be a place for people to heal, not hide, their hurt.
If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one during this holiday season, GriefShare is an international organization that helps people walk through the grieving process with others.