5 Tips to Help Hurting Parents Survive the Holidays

"I'm Not in a Festive Mood!" but God Understands

Holidays are the most difficult time of the year for anyone in emotional pain, especially hurting parents.

I’ve been one. Our hearts are full of pain and sadness over our child’s struggles and destructive choices. This pain might be from any number of issues: alcohol, drugs, self-injury, mental illness, and more. We’re not in a festive mood.  All we can think about is the last trauma or what the next one might be. We wonder,  where is God and how can I survive this so-called happy season?

When Father’s Day Hurts

A Special Message for Brokenhearted Dads

Father’s Day is today. Are you a dad with a broken heart? Is it weighed down with pain, worry, fear, and rejection? If so, Father’s Day can be hard. Positive memories from when your son or daughter was young and innocent flood your mind. Negative memories and their associated emotions overwhelm you.

Men tend to hide their emotions, but this is different. Tears are close to the surface 24/7. Oh God, please don’t let anyone ask me about ________, or how I’m doing.

There’s a lump in your throat—but you hold back those salty rivers. You can’t let anyone see you cry. You’re a macho man, right? Besides, if you let them come, you might not be able to stop those salty rivers.

Can’t I get a free pass for Father’s Day? you wonder. Most of your friends have plans with their families. How you envy them. Their children enjoy being with them: cookouts, camping and fishing trips, beach or boat outings, theme parks, gifts, dinners . . . except for you. Perhaps you have other children who will be thoughtful, but not them—the one you ache over and can’t stop thinking about.

When Mother’s Day Hurts

When Your Child Breaks Your Heart there's No Break on Holidays

If your son or daughter struggles with addiction, mental illness, self-injury, an eating disorder, suicidal thoughts, is incarcerated or has other issues, then Mother’s Day is going to be difficult. It will hurt. A lot.

If this is your journey, then this is for you.

Moms like you don’t look forward to Mother’s Day. I know. I’ve been in that place. It brings increased sadness. Heavier heartache. You’d rather skip the day. You know you probably won’t hear from them, much less get a card.

You won’t see their smiling face greet you with affection, hand-made cards or thoughtful gifts like when they were young. They’re too self-focused and oblivious for such loving gestures now. They may not even know it’s Mother’s Day. They’re clueless.

Where does that leave you? Set up for a lot of hurt and pain, anger and resentment.

If Valentine’s Day Hurts

A Message to Parents in Pain

Valentine’s Day is this Tuesday. For parents in pain over the behaviors and troubles of their kids, it can be a hard day. I know. I’ve been there. I understand how it reminds you how much you love your child – and how much you’ve lost.

Valentine’s Day also reminds me of the greatest love of all. The love of  God and the love he has for all people.

Listen to what the Bible says about this love: “By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. BUT God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life . . .” (Eph. 2: 3b – 5b, NIV).

It’s spectacular. Indescribable. Marvelous.

I could go on and on listing superlative adjectives to describe how the above verses make me feel. I find great comfort here.

Without Christ, your child is an object of God’s anger; the focus of his wrath. Your son. Your daughter. They’re on their way to eternal doom. They’re in grave danger, headed for destruction,

BUT . . . God stepped in and did something most unexpected.

3 Things Hurting Parents Need to Hear at Christmas

Does God Really Care?

Does God really care about the hurts we parents carry for our children? Today’s blog is from a dad whose been there and understands – my husband Tom. He has something to say to that question and believe me, he knows what he’s talking about.

His message will remind us about 3 things we need to hear – especially during the holidays when our pain is more intense.

These three things are central to the message of the gospel and to Christmas. They intertwine beautifully to speak to our aching hearts. We hope they’ll help you today.


God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. This is what we celebrate at Christmas. The Apostle John wrote: ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1: 1,14).

Can Parents in Pain Really Celebrate the Holidays?

Focus on This

rockwellCan you remember when a special event was ruined for you because of something bad that happened? Maybe it was your birthday. Maybe it was Christmas.

I remember when this happened to me. It was Thanksgiving day in 1997 – a sunny, cold fall day in central Illinois. I was up early to prepare my family’s special breakfast before we watched Macy’s Christmas parade. I look forward to it all year. The house was full of cheerful anticipation as tasty aromas wafted through the house.

Suddenly the phone rang. My world was about to come crashing down.

“Hello?” I answered, expecting it to be one of our parents wishing us a happy day, but it was rather early for them to call.

“Dena, honey,” I heard my dad’s quivering, emotional sounding voice on the other end of the hard, plastic receiver. My stomach began to sink. Something’s wrong.

My mom was doing so much better after an eight month-long illness. She was finally going home later today. I couldn’t wait to talk with her. What a wonderful day it would be.

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this . . . but I just got a call from the nursing facility . . . and it’s about your mom . . . honey, she passed away early this morning while they were helping her get dressed.” Nooooo!!!!

Thanksgiving has never been the same. Her visitation would be on my birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate anything that year. Not Thanksgiving, my birthday or Christmas. I didn’t care.

Have you had a similar experience with one of your children? You’ve been so hurt, wounded, rejected, shocked, and disappointed that now you could care less about the holidays. No Norman Rockwell Christmas for you.

Thankful for Thorns?

A Short Story For Broken Hearts onThanksgiving

The following short story was penned by George Matheson ~ late 19th century Scottish minister and hymn writer.
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a

D-Thorn.com photo cred.

D-Thorn.com photo cred.

November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week she would have delivered a son.

She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer? Had she lost a child? No! “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she

A Hurting Parent’s 12 Days of Christmas

Today I thought I’d take a popular Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and adapt it’s message for you,Wrapped Christmas Gift brokenhearted, weary, disillusioned, disappointed, grieving parents. God has many gifts to help us on our journey with children whose behaviors and choices have ruined our dreams and dashed our hopes. May these revised words remind you of a few of those gifts.


On the First day of Christmas our True God gave to us a Savior who is Jesus Christ the Lord.

On the Second day of Christmas our True God gave to us understanding friends.

Thanksgiving Day for Parents in Pain

It’s Thanksgiving Day when all through the houseturkey

A family was struggling, their child was no where about.

Mom couldn’t pretend that it was okay, her heart was too broken – there was nothing to say.

Her child wasn’t there – it wouldn’t be the same

No one could understand  the depth of her pain.

Dad felt it, too, the loss was so great,

Their lives filled with sorrow, anger and shame,

For they no longer knew this child of their hearts

Their boy’s a stranger, their girl’s gone astray.

To the land of addiction, estrangement,

I hate you and just go away.


How parents yearn for the years gone by

When games were played and they used to have fun

Their kids enjoyed them and liked to come home.

Now all that is past, who knows what’s ahead?

Will their child see the new year or wind up . .  . dead?


What’s the purpose of this? Why do I write these things?

Why, I just wanted to say I’ve felt much like you,

During the holidays I drug myself through

Thought I wouldn’t survive.


So I wanted to say a few things to you:

Please hold on to hope

Please never give up.

You can’t know what each day holds.


So lift up your eyes to heaven above

Believe God loves you and cares,

He’ll help you be grateful

And Give thanks to His name.


If this holiday is hard, I pray you’ll find comfort in these words.

You are Not Alone.






When a Parent Just Can’t be Thankful

Sometimes parents just can’t feel  thankful. Certain parents — like us. We’re in a special group you know. It’s not all our fault – it’s our kids. DisappointmentIt’s their choices and struggles that sap us of reasons to be thankful – to be honest, maybe it’s been that way for years.

Your child’s in jail or prison. They’re ruining their lives with drugs or alcohol. They have an eating disorder or can’t stop cutting. They struggle with a mental health issue and often refuse treatment. They’ve been in the psych ward so many times you can’t  remember any more. So many rehabs you’ve lost count. They’re miserable and they make your life miserable. Your gratitude tank is on empty.

I say we’re special, but it doesn’t feel very special. It feels awful. And now it’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is only one week away. Oh, boy. Some of you wish you could fast forward to December 1st. How do you mouth words of gratefulness without feeling like a hypocrite?