Help for the Holidays
The holidays are upon us. For many, the holidays are a happy time of the year when families and friends congregate and celebrate. But when a child, sibling, or grandchild has died, the bereaved usually find their energy levels have fallen and the holidays a time to be especially difficult. Friends and family are concerned and want to be helpful, but usually are uncertain how they can support you. Too often they are afraid they will say or do the wrong thing, so they do nothing, which can make them appear uncaring. Following is a list of ideas how you can provide support to a grieving family during the holidays (and remember that grief doesn’t last just one holiday season). Open your heart and be a Compassionate Friend this holiday season!
- Recognize the holidays have changed for them—they will appreciate your acknowledgment.
- Offer to do the holiday shopping/gift wrapping or to address holiday cards. Be mindful that they may not want to participate in anything that involves the holidays this year or even following holidays.
- Coordinate holiday activities with surviving siblings (don’t forget them during this important time of the year).
Invite the family for dinner instead of expecting them to host.
- Be open to the idea that the family may want to end old traditions that have suddenly become painful for them. Suggest new traditions that incorporate the child who died. The family may want to return to their old traditions another year (or not) and that is okay too.
- Respect the family’s privacy—don’t press for a commitment just to get them involved and out of the house.
- Offer support and patience.
- Give them space to grieve in their own time.
- Express feelings for the grieving person by acknowledging that they are hurting. Give encouragement that they will get through this. Don’t try to hurry the process.
- Send a card or note supporting the individual. Recognize and acknowledge that some days are more difficult than others.
- Reminisce—the number one fear of bereaved parents is that their child will be forgotten. Speak their loved ones name and give them the opportunity to talk about their child and join them in sharing remembrances of fond memories.
- Above all, don’t avoid grieving parents, siblings, and grandparents—they need your friendship and support.
©2017 The Compassionate Friends