The holidays are a great time to relax and be joyful, however, it can also be a difficult time for those who have experienced grief during the holidays. At the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, TX, our counselors understand how certain events and tragedies can be especially poignant during the holidays as it reminds us for certain individuals we have lost or certain events that can bring about grief.
A past or recent devastating event can isolate the individual in grief from reaching out. They may feel like they are alone in their grief because no one can acknowledge or understand their pain.
As a friend or family member of someone going through grief through the holidays, it can be confusing as to how you can help and be there. Whether the grief is recent or in the past, it can be awkward in these times if you do not know what to do.
Here are 5 Grief Recovery Center’s ways to be there for someone overcoming their grief through the holidays:
1. What Do You Say?
More often than not, finding the right words to help a friend or family member overcome their grief is so difficult. You may not want to say the wrong thing, or say things the wrong way. It can feel like you are walking on glass with someone grieving through the holidays. However, our specialists at the Grief Recovery Center asserts that this does not have to be the case.
A simple gesture of reaching out and asking the person how they’re feeling is sometimes all they need as support during their difficult times. A grieving individual usually turns to isolation as their source of comfort, as they believe that no one else will understand. Which is all the more of a reason why it is essential to reach out to these individuals to help them be with people and continue to partake in regular activities?
Far too often, we think that certain things we say may cause more pain or remind a person of their loss. So, we end up avoiding the individual that is grieving altogether. As the Grief Recovery Center recommends, an email, phone call, or card is more than enough to show that you care.
Keep it, simple sweetheart, the best thing to do for a friend or family going through grief through the holidays is to keep your gestures simple. Whether that’s offering to pick up a meal, watching their kids, or dropping off some groceries, you can help alleviate the stresses of the holidays while the person goes through their grieving process.
The Grief Recovery Center is here to help when it comes to being a resource for an individual grieving through the holidays. However, things, like caring for that friend in need, taking them out for coffee, or sending them a card during an anniversary or a death date, are simple gestures that can make a huge difference in the grieving individual’s life.
Another aspect of keeping it simple is to understand that there are no time frames to the grieving process. Every grief journey is different, and every grief journey has its own timeline. No one way is correct or the right way to grief. The simpler we keep it, the easier it would be for the bereaved individual.
3. Give Room
Someone in the process of grief may want to continue to celebrate the holidays so that they can create new memories despite their loss. Some, however, may not want to have anything to do with the joy of the holidays. Either way, it is essential to give the person the room they need to go through their journey of grief. To support someone during the holidays does not mean that it is your responsibility to make them all cheerful. In fact, our Grief Recovery Center’s therapists suggest that you accept whichever pace they need, and follow their lead.
The last thing you want to do is to make the grieving individual so busy that they get distracted and cannot properly deal with their pain. And, if your loved one prefers to be alone or spend the holidays with others, respect their wishes. Don’t force them to celebrate, if they don’t feel right about it.
Lastly, give the bereaved individual the opportunity to tell you what helps and what does not help their grief. Ask the question and give them the room they need if that’s what they want.
4. Help Create New Memories
Being available is a very important aspect of supporting a loved one while they grief during the holidays. At the Grief Recovery Center, we encourage family and friends to help create new memories if the grieving individual is up for new rituals and events to find joy again during the holidays.
We often suggest that families find new ways to include the loved one that they lost during the holidays. As a friend or an extended family member, you can help as well to create new traditions that will give the group new memories to enjoy.
This doesn’t mean that old memories will be lost. They will be honored and cherished, while new memories will be formed to bring comfort despite a loss. It will acknowledge the loss and show that you care with your presence.
5. Listen to More Talk Less
People grieving through the holidays may find it very painful to talk about their loss. However, if given the chance, most will open up if you learn to listen more and talk less. The important thing to do is, as our Grief Recovery Center’s experts can agree, to be available. Tell the bereaving person that you care and that you’re there so that they can feel safe to open up without feeling judged.
It is also important to listen without vague responses such as ‘I understand’. Because, even if you have lost a loved one before, your situation is totally different from the bereaving individual. No two persons have the same grief journeys.
If you know someone that is having trouble with the holidays while in grief, it can be helpful to seek out our experts at the Grief Recovery Center in Houston for help.