The holiday season with traditions, celebrations and gatherings with family and friends is a landscape of painful landmines for those struggling with the death of a loved one. Supporting someone who is grieving during the holidays can be the most important gift you give this holiday season. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers ten suggestions for how you can really support someone who is experiencing grief.
1. Support their choice in how to handle the holidays. Some wish to follow traditions; others choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. Let them know that whatever they choose is “right” for them.
2. Help with decorating or holiday baking, which can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving.
3. Help with holiday shopping. Share catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.
4. Invite them to join you and your family during the holidays as your guest for a religious service or a holiday meal.
5. Invite them to volunteer with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a food pantry or other charity, may help someone who is grieving feel better about the holidays.
6. Donate a gift or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Remind the person that his or her loved one is not forgotten.
7. Don’t expect someone to be “over it, ” and ready to move on. What’s most important is to give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.
8. Be a good listener. Active listening is important to helping someone cope with grief and loss.
9. Remind them you are thinking of them and the loved one who died. Visits, cards and phone calls speak volumes about how much you care.
10. Remember them after the holidays. Sometimes the post-holiday period can prove to be even more difficult. Checking in after the holidays to see how the person is doing is also important.