We’re coming up on my most favorite time of year again. The holiday season! I’m a Fall baby (#teamlibra) and I love dressing in layers and sipping on warm drinks. This time of year is supposed to be about love, charity and overall togetherness. Personally my heart always feels for the people who had a loved one to pass on. This time of the year can remind them of what they don’t have rather than the things they do have.
Here’s a list of ways to be supportive to a person who might not be feeling the holiday cheer right now.
BE A GOOD LISTENER
Sometimes people just need to know that you’re there to hear them out while they go through the motions. They may even repeat themselves while reminiscing about their loved one. Listen anyway.
“I’m here for you. If you need anything just let me know.” This statement may be from the heart but will probably go in one ear and out the other to the person you’re saying it to. It’s likely that they have too much on their mind to reach out. So if you really want to help – offer it. Tell them you’re bringing dinner to their house. Invite them out for a fun night just because.
ASK ABOUT THE PERSON THEY LOST
People have fond memories that they may not share often. Take the initiative to ask about them. It shows that you care. Avoiding the conversation about the death isn’t going to help. The person needs to know that what they feel is OK and that they won’t be a burden to others by expressing their true feelings.
USE YOUR CREATIVE TALENTS
Buying a gift from the store is nice. But I like to go the extra mile for the people that I care about. My friend’s mom passed away before we met and one day recently, she was on his mind. I’m a writer but poetry isn’t my thing. Still, that evening I wrote a poem to his mom and sent it to him. That was an unexpected personal gift. Maybe you can draw well or put together the perfect gift basket. Whatever your talent, use it on someone who’s feeling lonely at this time of the year.
Don’t say things like “I know how you feel,” even if you went through a similar loss. Let them tell you how they feel. The same scenario will affect people in different ways. Don’t put anyone in an emotional box.
DON’T TELL THEM HOW TO FEEL
People feel a huge range of emotions when it comes to loss of life. Guilt, anger, bitterness, loneliness – a loss of faith. Give your encouragement without telling them how they should or shouldn’t feel. For example: say “I can understand why you feel that way” instead of “You shouldn’t feel like that.” Even if this person is generally positive, grief still brings a slew of emotions at one time. Be accommodating.
Maybe they’re tired of talking. Maybe they’re feeling so many things at once that they don’t know how to put it into words. Whatever the reason, don’t try to fill the quiet moments. Offer a smile or a cuddle and never underestimate how comforting those things can be. If you’re not sure what to say to comfort someone it’s OK. The main thing is to let them know that you’re available to them and that you care.
I haven’t lost anyone close to me yet but I know that if I keep on living it’ll happen. In the meantime I’ll keep being a support to the bereaved when I can.
Have you lost anyone that you cared about? If so, how did someone support you in a meaningful way while you grieved?
Until next time…