It’s the holidays and I miss my husband, my mother, and other loved ones no longer here to enjoy with me the break from work, the gift brainstorming, and other (unavoidable) festivities. I have watched hundreds of families dealing with grief as go through a season that professes joy. It can be almost impossible to understand how to ever find joy again when we lose a loved one. The holidays make the loss especially poignant as we remember traditions shared and memories we experienced. Even unpacking the ornaments can bring on a flood of tears.
Have you found some ways to help you cope? Or would you like to be better equipped to help someone you know who has lost all holiday cheer? There are some simple things you can do to help ease the sting of grief this holiday season. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Write a note to them with a cherished memory or story about their loved one. It so often feels as if life has returned to normal for everyone but the grieving. Just saying their loved one’s name can feel healing and validating.
- Offer to cook, decorate, wrap gifts or even shop for your grieving friend. These simple tasks can feel monumental when faced with loss. When you show up ready to serve, you are letting them know that you see them and love them.
- Personalize an ornament with their loved one’s name. It will reinforce that the person will never be forgotten and will always hold a special place in their heart in and in their holiday traditions.
- Give them something to hug. A pillow, a soft blanket or even a holiday stuffed animal could help bring them comfort. When they cannot hug their loved one, they can at least hold the pillow tightly and be reminded that they aren’t alone.
- Donate to a cause that their loved one believed in as a gift. Was their loved one an advocate for the homeless? Did he or she succumb to cancer? Choosing a charity that honors them shows them that you care for their loved one’s legacy as well.
Above all, honor their feelings and their need to say no to events they may have attended in previous years. Grieving is not a straight and narrow road. They will need time and space to work through things in their own way. Sometimes the best gift is to simply ask them if there is anything you can do to help them feel a little better.