Unique BLUE CHRISTMAS service helps grieving couple find healing

Tammy and Rob with Cheddar their black lab cross. The couple is now expecting a new baby in 2017. They are cautiously optimistic that everything will be okay.

Rob and Tammy’s lives forever changed one fateful October morning in 2015. They found that their newborn baby girl Mara had died in the morning hours from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Just ten short days ago was one of the happiest of the couple’s lives. Now that happiness was replaced by a gut wrenching terror, and grief that no parent should ever endure.

As the days and weeks melded into each other, Rob and Tammy grappled with their deep anguish, and in the future loomed Christmas.

“I didn’t want anything to do with Christmas,” says Tammy. “I didn’t feel happy or joyous, all the magic of the season was gone. I just wanted to be quiet in my grief with Rob. I had no energy for anything. I couldn’t be social, could not be anywhere close to babies or pregnant women and small talk was impossible. I knew everyone just felt so helpless and didn’t know what to do for us.”

Nothing could take away their immense sadness and grief, and Tammy ached to be in a place where she could acknowledge her grief openly without putting on her “happy face”. She had seen an advertisement for a unique service called “Blue Christmas” – a service aimed at those suffering with grief and sorrow during this normally joyous season. Rob was keen to attend and the two took in the service.

“I was nervous and wasn’t sure what to expect,” says Tammy. “We wanted to do something that acknowledged Christmas without expecting us to be happy and energetic. At the service I felt we were welcomed and held, in our broken state. That no one there expected anything of us. I felt that everyone was going through their own tough times and could empathize and hold space for us without trying to fix anything. It was perfect. Gentle. Solemn. The music was soft. And the Minister offered encouraging words and then later an opportunity to collectively and publicly share our heartache.”

Reverend Beth Hayward of Canadian Memorial United Church has seen a rise in attendance of Blue Christmas in the last five years. An expert in grief and healing, Hayward believes strongly in these types of public services to acknowledge grief in our lives. “We put on Blue Christmas as there is an immense loneliness at this time of the year for many people. While Christmas acknowledges the joys of the season it isn’t always a safe place to be when one is deeply grieving or struggling. We see so many people come, sit and just admit their suffering and we offer a safe place for them to do so.”

It’s been a year of remembering Mara for Rob and Tammy. They have grieved and even supported others that have sadly walked their journey of losing a child. Blue Christmas also connected them with a new friends and a church community they didn’t have before.  The couple is now expecting a new baby and are cautiously optimistic that all will go well…but know sometimes life has other plans. They will be attending Blue Christmas again this year.

Blue Christmas takes place at Canadian Memorial United Church on Wednesday December 21st at 7:30pm. For more information about the service contact office@canadianmemorial.org or call 604-731-3101.

blue-christmas-simpleEvent at a Glance

What: Blue Christmas Service

When: Wednesday December 21 at 7:30pm

Where: Canadian Memorial Church – 1806 West 15th (at Burrard), Vancouver.

For more information: office@canadianmemorial.org, Tel: 604-731-3101

Blue Christmas – Wednesday December 21 @ 7:30pm

Blue Christmas

Wednesday December 21 at 7:30pm

The Christmas season can be incredibly tough for those that have experienced loss. Whether it’s grieving a loved one, the loss of relationships or self, sorrow for the state of the world, or just a deep loneliness, Christmas can feel more tormenting than triumphant. Join Minister Beth Hayward for a special service, known as “Blue Christmas” to acknowledge and release our grief and sorrow, and begin a new journey towards joy.


SERMON SERIES! Three weeks of Jeremiah!

jeremiah_name_chemistry_element_periodic_table_square_sticker-r2c368ab9df034d06aac42fc02c50a08f_v9wf3_8byvr_324For the next three Sundays Minister Beth Hayward will be taking us through a journey into Jeremiah.

“Who needs prophets in the age of reason?” this sermon series will immerse ourselves in the world of Jeremiah, as we pull an ancient story into today and wonder together: ‘What does it mean to be a prophet? Where are the prophets today and is anyone listening?’



Here’s the rundown.

Sunday August 21 – Week One: Jeremiah 1:4-10

We’ll look at:

  • God placing the words in Jeremiah’s mouth, this is not about predestination but the ever present invitation of God.
  • We tend to think small, God thinks big.
  • God’s love is resilient and persistent.
  • So if we are not bowing to a God who pre-determines everything, how do we trust in God’s persistence? How do we live with the unpredictability of life in the times within which we live?

Sunday August 28 – Week Two: Jeremiah 2:4-13

We’ll look at:

  • Idolotry, and how living water verses cracked cisterns
  • Metaphors and living water as a really hopeful metaphor for the ever flowing love of God
  • We tend to worship our technology and forget to seek God
  • We forgot to ask ‘where is the Lord?’ we forget to notice that is is all about the living water not the containers in which we store the water…
  • How do we seek out God and not become the things we worship
  • Plus a whole lot about water and living waters and the rhythm of the rainy and dry seasons

Sunday September 4 – Week Three: Jeremiah 14_25-33

We’ll look at:

  • The potter’s house
  • We are God’s unfired clay – always unfired
  • The future is never fixed, always malable,
  • This is labour day weekend, it is our time of the year when we start getting back into routine, what does it look like to keep the possibilities fluid enough to be able to be continually reshaped by God?

Come join us in our Jeremiah journey! Services start on Sundays at 10:30am.  ALL WELCOME!