Experiencing grief at any time of the year is difficult, but it’s especially tough during the holiday season.
Seeing family and friends celebrating may make those experiencing loss feel isolated and alone in their grief.
Here at Cypress Lawn, our compassionate staff supports our neighbors across San Francisco and the Bay Area during all stages of grief and healing. Read on for some ways to support a loved one who is grieving during the holidays.
Invite them to holiday gatherings.
You may assume that your loved one doesn’t want to be social at this time of year because of their grief. Invite them to holiday gatherings whenever possible but also let them know they are free to stay at home if they choose to do so.
Try not to force the merrymaking.
Do your best to meet your loved one where they are at and honor their choices as far as the festivities in which they decide to participate. Someone who’s grieving might not feel up to singing carols or going holiday shopping among large crowds of people.
Grief is an unpredictable experience that can change from day to day or even hour to hour. Be prepared for your loved one’s plans to shift at a moment’s notice depending on how they’re feeling. For example, perhaps they decide last minute to accept or decline your Christmas Eve party invitation. Whether or not they take you up on every offer to celebrate the holidays together, be flexible and respect their decisions.
Help out with practical things.
Offer to bring over a homecooked meal or drop off groceries for them. If they have children, see if they’d appreciate a babysitter. You might also offer to help rake leaves or perform other household chores for them. These are some of the simplest and most impactful ways to support a grieving loved one.
Even if you’re not sure about the right thing to say, get in touch with your loved one anyway. Whether it’s a phone call, a text message, or an email, they’ll likely appreciate knowing how much you care. Allow them the chance to respond to you at their own convenience.
The act of listening isn’t complicated, but it can be incredibly difficult to do. Practice listening to your loved one without judgment or offering advice right away. When you feel led to speak, express your concern about how they’re feeling.
Talk about their grief.
Though it may make you feel uncomfortable to openly discuss their grief, it can be helpful to discuss it with your loved one. Encourage them to share their favorite memories with you or simply ask them how they’re feeling. Try not to dismiss their emotions or where they are with their grief at that moment.