Because the holidays aren’t happy for everyone

My work as an associate hospital chaplain introduces me to situations that break my heart, especially as I make rounds on the Oncology floor. The holidays can be sad, lonely times for patients and their families.

The last thing they need is a chirpy chaplain with religious platitudes. The thing they appreciate most is a listening, compassionate ear.

Whether we recognize it or not, we all have people in our lives who dread the holidays. Some of us dread the holidays.

One of the best presents we can give is our presence, our full attention and concern. When it’s appropriate, we can ask questions, listen to their stories and share in the experiences of their lives. But one of the most helpful gifts to someone who’s hurting is our silence.

I’m amazed at the bond that can form in those few quiet minutes in a hospital room. After our visit I pray with them and ask if I can share a verse of scripture. Jesus’ promise breathes peace and hope into most every circumstance:

when holidays aren't happy, Jesus is our light. John 8-12b

Life on earth is a vapor, but the life to come–a life that will seem like an endless string of the happiest holidays–will bring everlasting joy.

Heavenly Father, as many of us celebrate during this season, remind us of those who hurt. Give us words when they’re needed and the good sense to keep quiet when it’s appropriate.

Susan Stilwell

Susan Stilwell consults, writes and speaks on a variety of topics. Her clients appreciate her technical expertise and attention to detail on their websites, projects, and social media strategies. Technical "how-tos" are Susan's favorite articles to write. You can find her working as a blog designer and contributing writer at Fistbump Media. Susan also serves as a hospital chaplain associate and is a voracious scripture memorizer. She's a conference speaker and passionate expositor of God’s Word, and active on Twitter, Facebook, and

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