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Grieving During the Holidays

“Like snowflakes, my Christmas memories gather and dance — each beautiful, unique, and gone too soon.”

— Deborah Whipp

Adorned with bright lights and wishes of good cheer, the holidays may stand in stark contrast to the sorrow experienced by those grieving the death of a loved one. After the loss of someone you love, the last thing any one of us may want to do is celebrate. However; experts in the study of grief recommend that you engage as much as possible during the holiday season — at least as much as is comfortable. Some suggestions offered to us as friends of the person who has lost a loved one are as follows:

1. Don’t be afraid to talk about the loved one who has passed away. Many grief experts agree that reliving the life experiences you had with that person is very therapeutic and beneficial, especially during this time. Start a conversation with your friend about the recently departed.

2. As a friend to someone who is grieving, offer up your time to help the mourner have extra time for themselves. You can perhaps offer to watch their children or run errands for them. Being alone with free time can facilitate catharsis.

3. Offer a gift or remembrance such as a memorial picture frame to display a picture of their loved, one so they can view them regularly. Perhaps pay for a paver at a memorial center.

4. Sometimes simply keeping them company is a valuable gift. It can be reassuring and comforting. Your friend may not want to be alone or forgotten. Christian author, Ken Fite reminds us that “Giving your presence might be the best Christmas gift you give someone this year.”

5. Send a card or flowers to their home and write that this is in memory of or honoring their lost loved one.

6. Cook together. Listen to music, too. Food and music are the universal languages, right? Perhaps make the loved one’s favorite meal and share it together while sharing memories and listening to their favorite songs

7. Write special memories and place them in a box to be shared when the family is all together.

8. Grief can consume both physical and emotional energy, with the holidays adding strain on that energy. Look for what your friend's body language is telling you and adjust celebratory suggestions accordingly.

9. Start a tradition. Offer to meet at a local tree lighting ceremony or holiday service that honors those who have passed away.

People often need to be told that it’s alright to have certain feelings during the holidays. They may feel sad, angry, depressed and yes, they can even feel happy. Some have a need to express their spiritual beliefs. The holidays have always been a very difficult time for all of us who have lost someone. Being aware and paying attention to those feelings is very important to help us cope during this time.

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