KNOXVILLE — It’s the least wonderful time of the year for many people struggling with the loss of a loved one or other emotional burdens, but an event set for today offers help and hope, organizers say.

Blue Christmas will give people dealing with a variety of losses a chance to let go of what’s weighing them down, says Klay Korver, a staff member of Celebrate Community Church. People can stop by the church at 1005 N. Lincoln Street from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today to take part in several activity options, or just slow down to process their pain, he said. A church service and time to visit with counselors begins at 7 p.m. 

Korver, whose brother Kirk died earlier this year at age 27, can relate to the pain that others will feel during the holidays. He takes solace in an image shared by another man dealing with loss.

“He feels like he has a suitcase by his bed every day,” Korver said. “When he gets up, he has to pick up the suitcase and carry it with him every day. Some days it’s heavier, some days it’s lighter.

“For us, when you get to the holidays and spend lots of time with people, the suitcase just gets heavier.”

Korver said his brother’s loved ones are still figuring out their way through the holidays without him.

“When that person’s not there, you feel it,” he said. “The suitcase is certainly heavier right now than it has been for a while.”

Weights and candles will be features of stations participants can visit during the event. Folks also visit with prayer teams and professional counselors, Korver said. A counselor gave Korver some good guidance earlier this year, he said.

“As you allow yourself to grieve and allow yourself to process, his death will not go away, but it shrinks in your memory, and their life expands,” Korver shared. “If you don’t grieve well, their life doesn’t expand. It just gets stuck in those last moments. You miss out on so many good memories and ways that they’ve blessed you and loved you.”

Korver encourages people struggling with recent losses or ongoing hopelessness to turn to counselors for tools and support. People need to move past the stigma of seeking help, he said.

“It’s really good to talk to people who know what they’re talking about,” Korver said.

Another common pitfall occurs when people compare their burdens with those of others, he said

“Who is to say whose sadness is worse?” he asked. “We all have things we’re trying to work through, and so we want to make sure that anyone who is just lonely can come and be ministered to.”

Korver said he hopes people come to Blue Christmas regardless of the source of their pain or any misgivings they might have about God.

“If you feel stuck or you don’t know what to do, regardless of how you feel about God or where he is or where he isn’t, you want to move forward, in a good way,” he said. “Just come out and try it. You’re gonna have an encounter with the living God and you’re gonna see him differently.”

Pat Finan is the editor of the Knoxville Journal-Express and Pella Chronicle. He can be reached at 641-295-0624 or via email at or