This time of year can be difficult for a family celebrating the holidays for the first time without their loved one. If someone you care about is experiencing grief this holiday season, here are a few ideas on how you may be of help.
Be Available and Listen
Your loved one or friend may need to reminisce and share his or her feelings of grief. Arranging a time to visit and listen is a simple but often much appreciated gift. Some conversation starters include: “I remember when he…” “One of my fondest memories…” followed by positive stories.
Offer a Lending Hand
Concrete assistance is more valuable than open-ended statements like “let me know how I can help.” While you might have the best intentions with a more general offer, it puts the burden on the bereaved. Instead offer to run errands, help with household tasks (lawn care, snow removal, driving), deliver a meal or coordinate others to deliver meals. This may be especially helpful if your loved one or friend is adjusting to life without someone to share household responsibilities.
Show Patience, Understanding and Persistence
If a loved one or grieving friend takes their anger out on you or refuses offers of help, reply with kindness. We all handle grief in different ways; in some, it comes out in anger. Be persistent in your sincere offers of help and stay in touch. Even short phone calls or notes may go a long way.
Set Aside Special Time for Reflection
Especially during the holidays, many who are grieving find comfort in prayer and/or their house of worship. Offering to pray for and/or attend services with your friend or loved one may be exactly what he or she is looking for.