I love the holidays. I love my memories from growing up. I love creating new memories with my kids. I love all the hot cocoa, the cheesy, feel good movies, the cookies and gingerbread houses, the lights…I have a serious love for the holiday season. But…let’s get real for a minute. When you are grieving someone you love, the holidays can be HARD.
Christmas 2008 was the last one I got to spend with my dad on earth. Christmas 2009 was filled with some seriously tender mercies, but also some bittersweet moments, as I was trying to come to terms that it was my first of many Christmases that I would spend without my dad. Amid all the cheer and fun and love, grief can creep up on you. Grief is isolating. Grief is hard.
I’ve put together some tips to help those you love who are grieving during the holidays.
How to Help Someone Who is Grieving During the Holidays
1. Follow Their Cues
If they want to talk about their loved one, LET THEM TALK. It can be uncomfortable for someone to broach the subject. You’re never sure if you’re going to say the wrong thing, or bring up sad memories or feelings or what not. I promise, the worst wrong thing you can say is nothing. If they don’t want to talk, then please don’t push it. A simple, “Hey, I’m thinking about you this season. Love you,” speaks volumes and lets the person know that they are not alone.
2. Don’t Forget Them
Don’t forget them. Grief can be so lonely and isolating because people forget or expect you to move on faster than you’re ready. It’s not their journey so they don’t get it, and that’s ok! Just be kind. Let your friend/family member know that you’re thinking of them and missing their loved one. Sharing a memory does wonders to bring a smile to their face. If they’re the kind to talk, ask for a favorite memory of their loved one. Ask them for a story. Ask them if they want to talk.
3. If They Need a Minute, Let Them Have a Minute
Sometimes I still miss my dad and cry. It’s been ten years. But I will always miss him. I try to walk away and cry somewhere private so I don’t make anyone else feel awkward. My husband knows that when I disappear for a minute, I’ll be back and I’m going to need a hug. He doesn’t understand why I cry, but he loves me enough to be patient with me. Going along with that…
4. Be Patient
It takes everyone a different amount of time to come to terms with their grief. Don’t try to rush them to be ok. It can be hard to find the balance, but just be patient, let them set the pace and love them the whole way.
5. Most Importantly, Just Love Them
Most importantly, just love them. Sometimes, grief makes you angry, love them through it. (Obviously, don’t let them be abusive! But be forgiving if they’re in a bad mood). Sometimes, grief makes you distant- love them through it. Sometimes grief makes you a little loco- love them through it. The greatest gift you can give them is your love through their journey.
I hope this helps. Know that you are not alone.