Managing Grief During the Holidays

Managing Grief During the Holidays is a conversation deserving attention. For many, Thanksgiving and Christmas are happy times but difficult for those who grieving a loss.  Loss has many forms; the death of a loved one, the dissolved dream, empty arms, or an unexpected diagnosis. Our lives fall apart in different ways.

Acknowledge holidays will be different.

“One of the most important things to do when you are navigating a loss–and there are several kinds of losses, it’s not just the death of a loved one–is to acknowledge that these holidays will be different,” says teacher, widow, and author Marilyn Nutter. For example, if there is a job loss, finances will be affected. An empty chair will emphasize the loss of a loved one.

Adjust and Express Your Expectations

People will try to make things the same as before, but it’s different. Circumstances and people are now different and so will be this holiday. Know it’s going to be different and adjust your expectations. Ask yourself, what do I think the holidays will be like this year? How do I want to celebrate the holiday in the most loving way to myself and to God?

Marilyn is a facilitator at Grief support. As the holidays approach, she encourages grievers to voice their expectations to friends and family. Sometimes, people want to carry on the tradition exactly as before. However, if the tradition includes travel, they may not want to. The idea of packing and traveling might be too overwhelming during this season. Friends and family are not mind readers, so it is important to express this reality that this holiday will be different and share your thoughts and expectations with others.

Recognize the Range of Emotions

Each person is different and will handle loss differently. Emotions, such as anger and disappointment, will change throughout the day and the season. The key to navigating loss this Thanksgiving and Christmas is to recognize emotions will vary throughout the season and throughout each day.

I remember the first year of my illness, telling my eleven-year-old daughter I didn’t feel like celebrating. With a deep sigh, I said, “I cannot do this. I want to skip Thanksgiving and Christmas and go straight to January.” My daughter put on her eleven-year-old sassy pants and, with hands-on-hips, she demanded, “No mom! In this house, we celebrate Jesus! We are going to celebrate the birth of Christ and we are going to be thankful!”

My daughter was right. We didn’t put up all the decorations as in years before. But I managed to set out some pumpkins and mums for Thanksgiving and we decorated the Christmas tree. It wasn’t the same as in previous years and neither was I. Anger, disappointment, and uncertainty loomed at every corner.

Remember Others Grieve Differently

Chances are during the holiday season; you will encounter someone whose grief looks different from your own. Grief is as unique as our fingerprints, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. This includes our children. Keep in mind others are grieving the loss of that person too, and they may grieve differently than you. In our interview with Family Life Radio, Martha accurately describes it as a “constellation of reactions.”

Offer Practical Help

If someone we love is grieving this Thanksgiving and Christmas, the best way to know how to help is to ask. Start by telling your loved one…

“I recognize this is going to be a hard season for you, but I want to know what can I do? What’s going to be the most beneficial to you?”

Allow that person to answer for themselves. If they don’t answer, it’s possible they are dealing with so many decisions they have “decision paralysis.” Basic decisions are too much because the grieving loved one is so overwhelmed.

In this case, I recommend you make these suggestions. “I would like to help you by…

  • Wrapping or mailing packages
  • Grocery shopping for you
  • Baking
  • Addressing your Christmas cards
  • Bringing down your Christmas decorations down from the attic”

This topic is close to my heart. In the second half of this year, I’ve attended six funerals (three of which we family members). I know I am not alone in my grief. I know what it is like to not have the strength or capacity for phony people, forced smiles, and hoopla. Sound familiar?

Earlier this month we had the opportunity to talk with Martha Manikas-Foster at @familylifenypa radio.🎧(Listen to the podcast here) We discussed the topic of managing grief during the holidays which is also discussed in our new book, Destination Hope a Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart.

Hope is the key focus of our book and the encouragement we want to share. When loss threatens to topple our world, God remains constant.

Hugs & Hope,

April Dawn White

💌 If the message comforts you today, would you please share this Hope with others.

Images courtesy of Canva and  Erica Marsland Huynh Unsplash

© 2021 April Dawn White

Destination Hope a Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart is available online at Amazon, Books a Million, Barnes & Noble, and

Alone With My Faith

In 2021, Harry Connick Jr. released a new album titled Alone with My Faith. I leaned in and listened intently as Connick shared the backstory of his album on Annie F. Down’s That Sounds Fun Podcast (Episode 288).

This new album resulted from his need to process the pain of the pandemic and losing fourteen friends in a brief time span. By getting alone with his faith, Connick sought comfort by singing and arranging classic hymns he learned as a child. Spending time alone with God enabled the mastermind musician to process his grief and pain.

Alone With My Faith


My soul resonates with the title of Connick’s album. During the dark period of postpartum depression, I sat alone with my faith in my favorite red chair. Tears dripped onto the opaque pages of my Bible, smearing the ink penned in the margin. I returned to my red chair to be alone with my faith for many years while parenting a strong-willed child and later during the teen years. I found myself alone with my faith when I waited for over a year for a diagnosis of my debilitating illness. It was in those solitary moments with God; I pleaded, wrestled, cried, and eventually surrendered by plans before our Almighty Lord.

Perhaps I’m not the only one. Have you found yourself alone with your faith? Maybe you’ve finally settled into a new home, town, or job, only to learn your spouse’s job is relocating or your only grown child (and grandchildren) are moving across the country. Or perhaps you watched your finances drain away in a time when you expected an abundance.

If you were sitting with me on the back porch, we could discuss the umpteen ways we’ve witnessed our brook dry up (1 Kings 17:7). These moments push us past off limits. When tragedy strikes, we have two choices we can drift or dwell. We can choose to become bitter and drift away from the plans and purpose of God, or we can dwell in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91) and trust His plans and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).

Scriptures In Solitude

A quick glance through my old journals revealed these scriptures comforted me in my time of solitude with the Lord. May these also serve as a source of hope when you are alone with you faith.


“My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8 ESV).

“My soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly, he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:5-6 NIV)

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, “’plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1 ESV)

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 43:16 NIV)

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43: 1-2 NIV).

The hit that knocks us down is the one we didn’t see coming, but we don’t have to stay there. Remember to dwell not drift. Hunker down and spend quality time alone with God and your faith, He will bring you through.

© 2021 April Dawn White

Did you know?

My book, Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart, co-written with Marilyn Nutter, releases September 28th! You can pre-order this book on,, and Barnes and Noble.

If my articles and words have encouraged you through a dry spell, would you consider purchasing a copy for yourself or someone else? I’m not too proud to admit, the cost of running this website and necessary subscriptions to stay online is several hundred dollars a month.

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 The Back Porch is the monthly newsletter, when I share my current favorite reads, shows, foods, or stories. My geriatric Jack Russell Terriers will join us. Guinness, is the one snoring. Join by subscribing at


Long-Haul Adversity Requires Long Faith

Long Faith for the Long Haul

Prior to the coronavirus, the term “long hauler” described the life of a tractor-trailer driver crisscrossing the US with their freight. But in 2020, scientists reintroduced the phrase, “long-haulers” to our vocabulary, referring to people who experience chronic COVID-19 symptoms for months.

Long-haul adversity requires long faith.

Those of us in the chronic warrior community are long-haulers. Whether or not we have experienced COVID-19, we comprehend the emotional, physical, and spiritual haul required each day.

Persistent symptoms snag the hem of the chronically ill. These symptoms differ hour by hour and possess a knack for acting in defiance on special days, rendering sadness and a sense of betrayal of our own body.

Meanwhile, daily weariness weighs down the willing caregiver and extended family. They too struggle with sadness and question what to do. Often the caregiver misses special events too. While they ponder whether to stay behind or attend the function, usually they too stay behind. Sadness and isolation exist for both the chronic illness warrior and the caregiver. Therefore, long-haul adversity requires long faith.

Chronic illness life is akin to walking headlong into a storm. Thankfully, God’s Word gives us a clear depiction of what to do in a storm in Matthew 14: 23-31(NIV):

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

long faith for the long haul

Peter kept walking on the water as long as his eyes remained fixed on Jesus. When Peter allowed the wind to distract him, he began to sink. Pastor, Dr. Dharius Daniels said, “Walking in the wind means I need to have more than strong faith. Walking in the wind means, I need to have long faith.”

As we shuffle headlong through our personal health storm, medical costs, piles of paperwork, and waiting for test results can distract our focus from Jesus. It never fails, if one area of our life is calm, then the wind will blow in another area of our life or our kids, family, or work, tempting us to lose sight of Jesus in the storm.

7 verses for long faith during long haul adversity:


“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1 NIV)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26 NIV)

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV)

 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV)

 “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4 NIV)

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)


Do you feel like you’re sinking? Hold tight, friend. Keep your eyes on Jesus. If you sink, call out to Him, for He is mighty to save.

Pressing on with you for the long haul.

© April Dawn White 2021


long faith for the long haul
long faith for the long haul

👀Back cover sneak peek. 

Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart offers camaraderie and a beacon of hope for women who feel alone in loss, struggle, or change of circumstance. This book is not a self-help book filled with platitudes from people who think they have life figured out. Instead, Marilyn Nutter and April White link arms with the audience and encourage their readers through stories of their own hardships in widowhood and chronic illness. Readers are encouraged to see loss and hardship as part of life’s journey and are constantly reminded to turn their gaze upwards, to the Purveyor of Hope. Within the pages of Destination Hope comes a sisterhood, a bond, that can be formed only through the mutual understanding of loss and the need to find hope among hardships

Pre-orders are available now through, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook. Join our book launch team and spread HOPE. (click here to join). 

Borrow Hope from God by Rev. April H. Cranford

Borrow Hope From God

In seasons of doubt, weariness, or fear we can borrow hope from God and our friends to help us persevere through hardship.

I am not a good borrower. There always seems to be an unfortunate set of events when I borrow items that belong to family, friends, or neighbors. I lean toward going without rather than borrowing an item because when I borrow an item, the item breaks before I return it. Whenever I borrow a book, coffee spills onto the cover. Whenever I borrow a sweater, I eat spaghetti and a stain ruins the garment.

Borrow Hope from God

Rev. Kathy Escobar shares in her book A Weary World that we need to borrow hope from God and others to see us through weary seasons of life.

I have used the word ‘borrow’ with tangible items such as borrowing a pencil but not with concepts such as borrowing hope. When we borrow things, there are at least three components:

  • Asking for the item
  • Completing the task
  • Returning the item.

We Were Designed to Depend on One Another

Perhaps, what we really dislike about borrowing is asking for the item. In the asking, we admit we lack something when we rather be seen in the light of having everything together. When we turn to God and others for help, we realize we were designed to depend on one another. Each time we ask and seek, we grow a little wiser and experience love a little deeper.

Perhaps, the difficulty in borrowing is the required follow-up. We may have enough energy in preparing, asking, and completing the task, but putting things back in their place or returning may be too much.

Borrow With Gratitude

The best way to follow up and return a borrowed item is with gratitude.

  • We let a friend know the devotional they sent us started our day off better than we had hoped.
  • We tell a colleague that their words spoken long ago directed us down a clearer path than we had hoped.
  • We write a thank-you card for a family heirloom, which passed down hope through the generations.

Borrow from Scripture

In Matthew, we see hope appear even before a formal request. Joseph borrows hope from an Angel that appears in a dream leading him to take Mary as his wife and to name his son Jesus. 

 “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way…an angel of the Lord appeared to him [Joseph] in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall name him Emmanuel,”

“Which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:18-25 NRSV)

In Seasons of Doubt Borrow Hope

In seasons of doubt, weariness or fear, hope may appear from an angel giving directions in a dream, a friend leaving encouragement on your doorstep, or a memory while listening to a song that motivates you toward persevering in a hardship.

After the angel spoke to Joseph, Matthew includes words from the prophecies of Isaiah that a child would be born to a virgin and named the child Emmanuel – meaning God with Us.

Borrow Hope from God

We believe in a God who is with us. A God, who stands beside us in the hard times and rejoices with us in the good times. We know a God does not abandon us, even when we abandon him. Because of this truth, God knows what we lack. God knows what we need to borrow even before we ask.

Let us borrow hope this week by striving to remain present with a God whose love will never let us go.

Today’s guest writer is Rev. April H. Cranford. Discover her heart to “Match Mission with Joy” on her website,

Hannah Wingert, Author of Yet Will I Praise Him

I’d like to introduce you to Hannah Wingert, author of Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness.

Though we’ve never met in person, Hannah Wingert has positively impacted my life. Please join me in welcoming mom of four, fabric collector, and hero-blazing-cape-wearer, Hannah Wingert to our cozy corner.

Hannah is the author of Yet Will I Praise Him: Living and Parenting with a Chronic Illness. Hannah and all four of her children have hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. EDS is a connective tissue disorder, which causes constant sprains, dislocated joints, muscular pain, and fatigue.

In her book, Yet Will I Praise Him, Hannah Wingert articulates the struggles and emotions plagued by chronic illness warrior- words often difficult to express. When I read this book, I exclaimed, “She gets me!”

One Book in Three Parts

In the book, Wingert speaks to three areas of a chronic illness: “Living as a Spoonie”, “Parenting as a Spoonie”, and “Loving a Spoonie”.

What is a Spoonie?

What is a Spoonie? The term Spoonie refers to anyone with a chronic illness. This term derived from The Spoon Theory, went viral when written by Christie Miserandino on her blog, butyoudon’

Q & A with Hannah Wingert:

Q: How did you get into writing?

A: I’ve been writing ever since I learned how to do it! I wrote my first story when I was six years old and I haven’t quit yet. Writing took a backseat when I started having kids. Then I discovered blogging. Through my blogging and writing, I’ve made a lot of connections online and forged friendships that are still going strong.

Q: What prompted you to write the book “Yet Will I Praise Him?”

A: After being diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, the next logical step for me was to read a book written for moms living with a chronic illness. I only found one book. Although it was helpful and good to read, it wasn’t written from a faith-based perspective so I decided to write one.

Q: What does an average day look like for you?

A: After, I get the kids off to school, sit down for some time with God, and then spend the day doing household chores, making phone calls, answering emails, etc. with lots of breaks as my energy and pain levels dictate. Between all four kids and I, we usually have 1-3 appointments or therapies a week so on those days, our schedule is a little bit off, but we’re used to it so we make it work. The clinic is over an hour away so sometimes it feels like I live in my van.

Q: If all your household “chores” were complete, what would be your favorite way to spend the day?

A: With music playing on the Alexa, I’d alternate between reading, writing while sipping a chai latte. I also enjoy sewing clothes. I am trying to reduce my huge fabric stash by making new things for my kids and me to wear.

Q: Name one life lesson that you didn’t want to have to learn, but you are grateful you did, and why?

A: I’ve dealt with health issues my whole life (which make perfect sense now that I know I have EDS), but I always had the assumption that it would eventually get better by making excuses such as stress from work, I just had a baby, etc.

When I was diagnosed, it finally hit me that this was my life and I needed to accept that my health problems weren’t going anywhere. I went through a period where I was very angry about my EDS, but eventually, I worked through it with the grace of God.

I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily thankful for my health issues, but I am very thankful for how I’ve learned and grown closer to God through them. 

Depression has been an ongoing part of my journey, and I want people to know that having depression does not make you a “bad” Christian.

Hannah Wingert

Author, Yet Will I Praise Him

Q: How can we support you?

A: Share my book! My main goal for my book is for it to reach the people who need it the most. I have a huge burden for other moms going through situations similar to mine.

Friends, Yet Will I Praise Him, is available anywhere books are sold. It is also available on Kindle.

If you or someone you know has a chronic illness, this book will be a valuable hope-filled resource.

Yet will i praise Him

I’m April Dawn and This is My Month

April Dawn This is my month

Hi! I’m April Dawn and this is my month. There’s always been a bit of fun, joking, and curiosity behind my name. So today, on April Fool’s Day, I thought I’d plunge into some interesting notions surrounding me and my name.

I’m a July (not April) baby!

Contrary to what most people assume, I was not born in April. My birthday falls in the heat of July.

My mother chose two names, one boy and one girl name. Regardless of the month, her daughter would possess the name, “April Dawn.”  If was a boy, my father wanted the name, Shawn Oliver. (Being that my maiden name starts with a ‘B’ that child would have horrible initials.) Thank the Good Lord, I am a girl 🙂

My parents are not hippies.

When my husband’s extended friends and family received our wedding invitations, they  doused him with the same question, “Are April’s parents’ hippies?” To them, the name April Dawn sounded like the name of a free-spirited love child. In reality, my husband’s Irish/Italian family is far more robust and lively than my quiet farm-raised family. The joining of our family resembled the union of the Portokalos and Miller family from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” (This is still my favorite all-time movie!)


My sister and I were both given the birth name April.

For many years my sister and I differentiated ourselves by the phrase, “Big April and Little April.”

From my toddler years through my teen years, my parents served as foster parents. After much prayer, another April wobbled into our home. My mom kept this little girl in the church nursery and felt prompted to pray for her. Over many weeks, my parents, who had been fostering for years, learned this younger April was entering state custody. Already positioned in the foster care network and known to the child, my parents advocated for her. Little April teetered into our home and our hearts forever. Five years her senior, we used the term “Big April, Little April” until her legal name change.

Meaning of April Dawn 

Latin scholars derived the word April from the noun Aprilis, the fourth month of the year, and from the Latin verb aperire meaning “to open” because leaves and flowered opened in April. [1] The name Dawn offers promise, hope, and light. [2] The inner nerd in my comes alive when I learn about the origins of words and names. Imagine my delight when I discovered my name means to give promise, hope and light.

April Dawn. First and middle name.

Even before my parents adopted my sister, my parents and friends referred to me as April Dawn. To this day, If someone uses my first and middle name, I take it as a cherished throw-back to life in the 70s and 80s.


Fast-forward to Adulthood

I began my writing career with the blog titled “Red Chair Moments”. During that time, I signed off each post as “April.” But, as my professional writing career developed, and I received payment as a freelance writer, I added back my middle name. I said goodbye to my first website, Red Chair Moments, and relaunched under my name April Dawn White. Why? I researched and discovered several other writers named April White. Some of these writers do not share the light of hope in Christ I desire to display for my readers.

👉What’s the story behind your name? Please share!

Hugs & Hope,

April Dawn White © 2021




Christmas Hope Advent Readings


Advent is the season of preparing our hearts for Christmas and Christ's birth. Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Day.

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