Those that are coping with the loss of a loved one, whether recent or not, may feel more like hiding during the holidays, rather than joining in the celebrations. The holidays often emphasize pain for someone that is grieving, and sometimes leaves them feeling like they would rather deal with it alone or that they need to change up traditions. As a result, friends and family are unsure of what to say or how to act around a grieving loved one. So what IS the best way to support a grieving loved one throughout the holiday season?
First and foremost, be supportive of their wishes and the way they choose to handle the holidays. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, just like there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Invite them to your holiday gathering, or offer to join them at their church or other gathering that means a lot to them. However, don’t push them into doing anything that they don’t want to do.
Offer your help and be there for them in every way that they will allow you to be. Whether it’s helping them with their shopping, decorating, baking, or craft projects, or to simply stop by and visit with them a couple. Remember the best thing you can do for someone that is grieving is to spend time with them and be willing to listen. Active listening from family and friends is a very important part of grief and healing. Never tell them that they need to “move on” or “get over it”. Give them hope that things will eventually get a bit easier and allow them to consider that one day they may enjoy the holidays again.
The most important thing you can do for someone who is grieving is to let them know you care and that they are not alone – that they are remembered, and so is the loved one that they have lost.