It’s Christmas time. Twinkling lights are going up, parties are being planned, and presents and treats galore are being purchased and made. But even as happy tidings are shared between family, friends and neighbours, we can’t forget that many of those we care about are hurting deeply.
Grief is not relegated to certain parts of the year, it’s a 24/7 process and when Christmas and the holidays arrive it can be escalated…. But how can we be sensitive to the emotional needs of those around us.
Remember that we have all lost a loved one, and remember how we felt, talk, share, remember and embrace this time of year… it will not be an easy task for those who are hurting at the loss of someone close and special.
Consider these 12 tips on how to interact with your grieving friends or loved ones this Christmas.
1. Recognize and accept that someone near to you is hurting, and they are going to experience grief during the Christmas period.
We need to make sure that everyone enjoys the festive season, but make sure that you’re not pushing too hard. What you consider is enjoyment others many not. Emotions will run high throughout the festive season.
Let them experience and embrace these emotions, be that safe person for them to speak with and talk to. Above all, don’t try to avoid people who are grieving. They are already hurting and upset; don’t add your own discomfort to their load.
2. Encourage grieving loved ones to have healthy boundaries and be prepared to support them within those boundaries.
Grieving can you leave you with limited energy, it’s important that the person going through this can figure out what will work for them during this festive season. They shouldn’t entirely shut out all things Christmas, but they can limit what they embrace, depending on their needs. Being close to someone who is grieving, you can encourage them to set boundaries, and then, offer your support to those boundaries, and if necessary, help your grieving loved one fight to keep them.
3. Grieving loves ones will need plenty of notice about an event or gathering albeit family or friends.
When someone who is grieving their needs when it comes to time is greater, the energy to go out to an event or social gettogether will be greater. Give them plenty of notice so they can mentally and emotionally prepare themselves. Remember! You are encouraging them to embrace a healthy boundary for the festive season. Try not to take it personally if they don’t want to come out to your social event or gettogether.
4. Look for ways to honour the memory of a loved one.
There are a number of special and unique things you can do to honour a passed loved one. Making a special gift will give you satisfaction a sense of accomplishment that you have remember them with love. Your grieving friend or family member can share memories and stories, bring tears and laughter to the conversation. Help someone visit a grave, over the festive season… Embrace a favourite charity, attend a memories service, place a message on the Christmas Memory Trees that some funeral homes have.
5. Let old traditions, slip just this once while they work through their grief, or come up with a new tradition together.
It depends who’s passed away, some old traditions may be too painful to continue. Discuss which traditions to keep this year and which ones to put aside. Consider coming up with new traditions that will breathe some fresh air into the season.
6. Consider a Christmas service project, or memorial.
Grief can sometimes make you become so focused on strong emotions that we are feeling we forget to come up for air and breath. A good practice is to focus on others so that we can let our minds rest from the grief for a while. Think about becoming volunteer at a Charity kitchen, serve dinner to the homeless, or participate in opportunity available through the church or local community.
7. Be there to offer help when someone needs it. Welcome them and never make them feel like they are an inconvenience.
Grieving friends and family often want to be alone they are afraid of becoming an inconvenience to those around them who are not going through the same time. A grieving loved one knows that you have time for them and want but make them feel part of your Christmas. Talking is the first sign of support.
8. Let them embrace taking care of themselves, their life might have changed dramatically with this loss.
In times of grief, people can feel overwhelmed, tired, and emotional, it’s important that we take good care of ourselves even during grief. Think about going for a walk. The simple things in life, like a nice cuppa can mean all the world. Visit those that grieve during the festive season, show them that it’s okay to enjoy the simple pleasures even if their loved one is gone.
9. Listen. give choices, force nothing, this is a fragile time.
There is no rule about how long or how we grieve everyone is different. Make sure that you don’t make assumptions about their grief. Don’t make comparisons about how long it takes or took you to mourn. Make sure to give them choices – if you force them into something, it likely won’t end well. To listen to be patient, to be present, and in some cases just be silent.
10. There are many practical ways to offer help.
The Festive season can often mean lots of planning and preparation. For someone who is grieving, the things that once brought great joy may now feel pointless or like they are too much work. So, look for ways that you can help. Offer to do the Christmas tree or wrap presents. Invite them to yours instead this year. Take them shopping someone new somewhere different, writing Christmas cards can be one of the most painful things when you no longer have to put your loved ones name on it…. May be make a donation instead to a favourite charity.
11. Send a thoughtful holiday card.
May be choosing a memory card instead this year…. Consider putting some extra time and thought into what you might say in a meaningful card, words that will comfort and bring hope.
12. Remember even when the festive season is over, they are still grieving.
When the holidays are over, this time can lead to even further depression, winter months dark nights and troubled weather… It’s important for a grieving person to know that your love and concern aren’t just temporary but are true and sincere. Make sure to reach out and offer your support all through the year.
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