Celebrating the holidays can be painful for friends and family members who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Instead of participating in the holiday cheer, a grieving person can feel stressed and withdrawn. Grief is a process that every person experiences differently. When you know someone who is grieving, here are some do’s and don’ts to help her through this difficult time.
Understand that for a grieving person, it’s hard to celebrate when a loved one has passed. Acknowledge the process of mourning and be patient. There is no right or wrong way to express sadness.
Don’t rush the grieving process.
The loss of a loved one during the holidays can’t be compensated with thoughts of celebration and festivities. Even after the holiday season, a grieving person may still feel depressed. Recovery and moving on is not something that should be hurried. Allow your loved one the time they need to heal.
Active listening plays an important role in providing solace to a mourning person. You don’t even have to start the conversation and keep it going. Merely listening and sympathizing with her loss may be enough to comfort an otherwise troubled heart.
Don’t make tactless comments.
If you do have to say something, think about what you say first and how it will affect someone who is mourning. Some things to avoid saying are:
“I know how you feel.”
“You will be okay. You should move on.”
“Be thankful for what you have.”
These comments do not help a grieving person and might even make them feel worse. Although your intentions are genuine, saying the wrong thing might make it seem as though you’re trying to judge and dictate how someone should or shouldn’t feel.
Do spend quality time.
Ongoing support for a grieving person does not stop after the holidays are over. Remind your loved one that they should not hesitate to give you a call when they need you. Invite them to group meetings or therapy sessions. Join them for healing events and activities.
Don’t ignore warning signs.
Each person has a unique way of mourning. While some are able to go back to normal routine a month or two after the loss of a loved one, others take longer. Watch for worsening changes in behavior such as talks of suicide, withdrawal, hallucinations, alcohol or drug abuse, extreme bitterness or anger, and inability to function on a daily basis. These signs should not be ignored. Get help immediately or call 911 during any life-threatening situation.
Do offer practical help.
There are plenty of things that keep us busy during the holidays. But none of these might be important to a friend or family who has lost a loved one. Why not offer to help with holiday shopping, decorating or preparing meals?
You may want to suggest ways to spend the holidays to friends or family members who have lost a loved one, but remember that this year is different for them. They may want to keep old traditions or create new ones in honor of the deceased. If there’s anything you can do to contribute to, for example, a memorial or a tribute dinner, offer your help.
Assisting with funeral arrangements is also one of the best ways to show that you care. Whether a friend or family chose traditional burial with a funeral, cremation with a memorial service, or another kind of ceremony, helping with “things to do” and setting up the service at their preferred location can mean so much to the bereaved.
The professional and caring staff at Neptune Society are here to help grieving families and friends during the holidays. For more information about Neptune Society or our grief services, please contact your local office.