Rev. William Ragsdale: A blue, blue, blue, blue Christmas
Listening to Rufus Wainwright and Lou Reed sing “Blue Christmas” made me realize there are many people around us who have recently lost a loved one. They will be having a blue Christmas, adjusting to this change in life about them.
You can hear Lou and Rufus sing the song on You Tube or if you prefer, listen to Elvis sing it: he made it popular years ago. Just go to You Tube and type in either name and “Blue Christmas,” if you have a computer or iPad.
Who among us has not had a blue Christmas thinking about relatives and friends who have died and passed on? There is hardly anyone among us who does not have persons close to us in our memories, and this song “Blue Christmas” takes on a really powerful significance.
Most of us have dealt with our parents who have passed on and are now having a “white” Christmas in Heaven, as expressed in Jim Reeves’ lyrics of the song. The real calling is — how can we be of help to those living about us today who have lost loved ones?
To answer this calling means we have a plan for dealing with grief and mourning. There are several things we can do.
First, we need to deal with our own grief over the death/loss of a loved one, be that a mother, father or other close relative. We could begin with our own pastor or find one and ask if he or she can help us. Then there is Hospice, which we could contact for grief counselors and support groups.
Support groups can be most helpful if one is having a particularly difficult time with a loss. In a grief support group a person can find strength from others who have also lost a loved one.
Secondly, we might have an intercessory prayer for them by praying to God.
Thirdly, we can listen to them — not talk, but let them talk.
Fourth, we could share with them how we have handled our own grief and loss.
During my days in seminary in the mid 1960s I learned of a booklet that was most helpful. Since that time the booklet has been printed and reprinted over and over. It is Granger Westburg’s “Good Grief.” And then there are other books and pamphlets like “Care Notes” which come at loss from a variety of directions.
Perhaps the starting point might be to ask God and Christ to guide us and help us as we deal with “Blue Christmas” for ourselves as well as others.
Here are Jim Reeves’ lyrics to “Blue Christmas:”
I’ll have a blue Christmas without you
I’ll be so blue just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me
And when those blue snowflakes start fallin’
That’s when those blue heartaches start callin’
You’ll be doin’ all right with your Christmas of white
But I’ll have a blue, blue, Christmas.
Rev. William R. Ragsdale is the chaplain at NC State Veterans Nursing Home