How to Help
Grievers During the Holiday Season
Where there is great love there are always miracles.
Being supportive of a bereaved friend is a worthy endeavor that may
drain you of energy, especially during the busy holiday season. It is important to attend to your own feelings and fatigue.
When you take care of yourself you are better able to help others.
visit December's Child for thoughts on how to support grieving children, or refer to How Children Grieve from ChildGrief.org.
If you want to write a note of sympathy for your grieving friend, but need a little
boost to get started, click Writing Letters of Condolence.
You can plan in advance for ways to reach out to your grieving friend during the holiday
season. Here are a few suggestions to get your own ideas flowing, but I believe that if you listen to your heart, you will
always know how to best help your friend. Trust the message.
Invite your friend to share the holiday at your house.
Take your friend out for a special Christmas lunch.
Better yet, invite your friend over to your place
for a holiday meal.
Please don’t avoid the loss. Your friend may need to cry and reminisce about happier
times, or may need a break from the sadness that your invitation provides. Grief is personal. Allow the conversation to go
where it needs to go.
Write a note, send a card, deliver flowers, or give a thoughtful gift.
donation to a holiday charity in memory of the one who has died and have the announcement sent to your friend.
Take a drive to look at Christmas lights. Stop for dinner.
Grief drains people of energy making activities
of daily living very difficult and holiday preparations overwhelming. Call your grieving friend and ask what you can pick
up for them at the store today.
Simplify your friend's life. What tasks are overwhelming to your friend right
now? Cook a few meals for the freezer, offer to help write thank you notes for the gifts of food and flowers at the time of
the death, pick up the kids from school, stop by the dry cleaners, or shop for groceries. In short, run errands because your
friend doesn't have the concentration or energy to do so.
Offer to take the dog for a walk, replace the kitty litter,
clean the house, change the bed linens, run the dishwasher, take out the trash, or do the laundry.
only the basics. Cleaning out the closets, rearranging the furniture, decorating, handling cherished Christmas treasures,
or moving items that belonged to the deceased loved one are intrusive and will likely be resented.
Be a handy person,
or one of Santa's helpers, if this feels appropriate. Consider the seasons and your geography as you offer simple services:
wash windows, mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow, or change the furnace filter.
Grief needs to be expressed
outwardly for healing to occur. If your friend likes to write, buy a beautiful blank journal, gift wrap it and drop it off,
or mail it. Begin the journal by writing a supportive note on the first page.
Above all, please don’t forget
your grieving friend during the holiday season and don’t give up. Your friend may be hurting too much to respond. Try
again later. It really is the effort that counts and the time you took to show that you care.
Not many people want,
or are able, to enter into another person's pain and suffering. Compassion for our fellow travelers is in short supply and
you are offering the gift of love. Congratulate yourself for expressing the deeper meaning of the season by accompanying someone
dear on one of life's most difficult journeys.
For more ideas on how to help a grieving friend, please
refer to Love in Action.
Go to next page: Gift Ideas from the Heart
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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar.
Mary Jane Moffat
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