While you and I prepare for the holiday season just a few days away, many of our friends and loved ones live in dread of the special days ahead when families gather and they will be reminded of their grief and their loss. In their homes there will be an empty chair at the dinner table as everyone gives thanks and next month an empty spot around the Christmas tree when gifts are opened. During a time that used to be overflowing with joy and celebration, those in grief will be reminded of the huge hole in their heart left by the death of someone significant in their lives.
You can help mourning friends and loved ones this year with your presence, support and encouragement.
- Reach out to them to let them know you are thinking about them. Let them know that you are always available to listen and be there for them.
- Invite them to share a meal or part of the holidays with you and your family. Mourners should never be alone.
- Listen to them as they cry, share their stories, experiences, emotions and fears during the holidays without judging what they say or feel. And please, don’t give any unsolicited advice.
- Help them with their holiday chores – shopping, decorating, or preparing their home for holiday visitors. Offer to babysit children while they take a break to pamper themselves.
Many are giving their mourning friends the gift of comfort this holiday season by helping them to understand grief–that mourning is natural, normal and healthy. Grief is simply the overflowing love in their hearts for that person who no longer is physically present. Mourners need to know that grieving in healthy ways honors a valuable life and helps to heal their emotional wounds caused by the death of a loved one.
Don’t let your fears of doing or saying the wrong thing keep you from doing anything at all for your mourning friend or family member during these difficult holidays ahead.
Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” and the Spanish version “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and http://grief-works.org/book.php . Also available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.