While for most people Christmas is a time of great joy, there are those within our community who find the festive season a real struggle.
The hurt and pain caused by the loss of a loved one – or other events which have caused stress – can be made even harder to handle because of the need to ‘grin and bear it’ around others who are busy having a good time.
For almost a decade, Launceston’s Pilgrim Uniting Church has sought to turn its focus to those who are struggling with the festive season through its annual Blue Christmas service.
Organiser Rev Tony Duncan said the service seeks to acknowledge the pain attendees feel is real and that God is with them in their suffering.
Mr Duncan said he saw the service as an “oasis of peacefulness in the Christmas storm”.
“We use music and silence to help people express outwardly some of the pain they feel and invariably people say it has been helpful,” Mr Duncan said.
He said the service was also a reminder to all that “we need never be alone”.
A similar service will be held on Tasmania’s North-West, at the Cooee Uniting Church. Minister David Webster said the region had been hit hard in recent months by an economic downturn which had seen hundreds of jobs disappear.
People were struggling to see a real future for themselves and the service would be an opportunity for many to reflect and seek God’s support in a troubled time.
Lifeline Tasmania general manager Christine Kettleton said Christmas was a time when the agency saw a spike in its calls for support. Ms Kettleton said for many people the hype associated with Christmas magnified their feelings of loneliness.
“The songs in the shops, the music and joy – those who don’t have support can have their feelings of loneliness brought home more keenly,” she said.
Ms Kettleton said Lifeline encouraged its clients to think about the good Christmases they may have had in the past as a way of dealing with their current situation and she was aware of some who chose to get away from all the hype as a way of dealing with it.
She also encouraged people to keep an eye out for neighbours during the festive season and look at opportunities to connect with them.
Gatherings this year will be held on Sunday 15 December at 2 pm at Cooee Uniting Church and Wednesday 18 December at 7.30 pm in the Paterson St Church.