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Dealing with loss at Christmas

Thursday, 19 December 2019  | Nils von Kalm

It’s been said that life is ultimately about how you deal with loss. We all deal with loss in our lives, and many - too many - of us feel it most deeply at this time of year.

A former pastor of mine would say that Christmas is a time when the poor are poorer and the lonely are lonelier. It’s a time of year when we feel the pain of loss the most. This Christmas for me will be the first without my Dad, who passed away six months ago.

In the last five years I’ve experienced a fair bit of loss. Being made redundant from an organisation I loved, going through a divorce and then losing my Dad have all taken their toll in different ways. You will have your own stories too.

In the middle of the pain, there is something about the hope, love, peace and joy of Christmas that touches something deep in me. While I write this and feel the pain, in a strange way I also feel closer to Love because of my conviction that the Man of Sorrows understands. He gets it. He gets me.

Without going through the suffering that he did, I don’t think Jesus would be a God worth giving my life to. He would be aloof; the tooth fairy god, the old man with the beard god, the one who might sympathise but who couldn’t say ‘I hear you’. Not really.

Within it all I feel love and I feel joy. Because in the end, the good news is that our pain is not futile. True joy is only really known within pain. Without suffering it’s just happiness. It’s good but it’s not as deep. For resurrection to happen, there has to be a death.

I still love Christmas, but in a different way than I used to. I love it now because I just want to be with the Man of Sorrows who weeps with the sorrowing. And I’m just so thankful for the joy that shines in the middle of it all; a joy that can only exist when we have known loss.

Nils von Kalm is an award-winning writer. He has worked in aid and development for almost 20 years and writes regularly for The Melbourne Anglican and Sight Magazine. He currently works in church and community engagement with Anglican Overseas Aid in Melbourne and had his first book, Bending Towards Justice, published in 2019. Nils can be found on Facebook at and at

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