While Santa is ho-ho-hoing, Christmas bells are ringing and chestnuts are roasting on an open fire, many people are
struggling with sorrow while all around them are in the holiday spirit.
Blue Christmas services are designed to help.
It tenderly cradles human grief and hope," said Chaplain Stephanie Dial at Mercy Regional Medical Center. The service
gives permission to grieve and validates whatever feelings they have."
Mercy's Blue Christmas, in its seventh year, began with just a handful of employees while still at the old hospital and
remains intimate to this day.
Diana McKenna, spiritual director at Mercy, said losses come in forms both large and small.
We can suffer a loss, and it doesn't matter if it looks like a loss to anyone else," she said. Losses may include the
loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, illness, loneliness, disappointment or even the death of a pet.
Job loss or difficulty finding employment not only impacts living conditions but one's self-esteem," McKenna said.
Sometimes it helps to be in community and acknowledge that the conditions and feelings are real."
C. Scott Hagler, musical director at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, is planning his third Blue Christmas at the church.
There were 75 in attendance the first year.
It seems to help to have a place where they have permission to cry and experience those down feelings," he said. We
hold it on what is also called The Longest Night," or winter solstice. It seems appropriate."
Both services will include mellow Christmas music, Scripture and candlelighting. One common carol, O Come, O Come
Emmanuel," will be sung at both Mercy and St. Mark's.
I was thinking about not doing it this year, but I just got a feeling I should," Hagler said.
Dial said the service is a peaceful one for chaplains, and while people lament," they also leave with comfort and
hope. Hagler agrees.
We have to have the perfect Christmas, and we have to be happy this time of year - when the reality is that we're
not," he said. This is an opportunity for people to come and be in the presence of God and acknowledge their grief and
despair and loneliness and give it to God."