“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” -Steve Maraboli
Although the holiday season is known as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, for those who are grieving, it may not appear so merry and bright and can be gloomy and spark negative emotions and sadness.
So how can you help someone who may be grieving at this time of the year? Here are a few tips that you can use to help make the season a little lighter for those who may be grieving.
During this time of the year, we can easily get overwhelmed with the parities, shopping, and other festivities of the holiday season, and it can be easy to forget those who may be alone. Doing something as simple as asking them to lunch or out for a cup of coffee and allowing them to talk about memories so that they their loss is acknowledged, can be one way to show them they are being thought of.
Many people who are grieving don’t want to put their burdens on others and try to handle their feelings on their own. Being present and listening can help others have a sense of belonging, promote positive well-being, and it lets that person know that they are not alone on this journey and that they are supported and loved. Allow them to talk about their loved ones and the memories, even if it makes you a bit uncomfortable. Their loved one may be physically gone but memories can last a lifetime.
Give a gift that is practical, yet purposeful. We often want to show our love by giving extravagant gifts at Christmas. Tell me when was the last time you used that yellow crystal giraffe with the neon dots? Yes, they will most certainly remember it, but why not give a gift that makes a difference. Gifts that promote positive thoughts, self-care, and well-being are always appreciated and needed.
When someone is grieving, it’s important to remember that their journey is one day at a time. Gift cards for spa services, counseling sessions, or home cleaning or lawn services are simple, yet useful gifts that can help make life a little bit easier for someone who might be feeling down or not up to doing everyday duties. Groceries are now at the push of a button and prime can get almost anything delivered within three days time. A week’s worth of groceries, extra toiletries for those days they forgot the dryer sheets, are simple things that can help them with daily routines of life.
Personalized gifts are also appreciated. Homemade items such as chili, their favorite cake, cookies or jellies and jams, or baskets that may include socks, bath salts, candles, framed photos, or even a gift certificate for a night out at the movies can brighten a person’s day. Self-care is very important, but these simple things often aren’t seen as a priority for someone who is grieving. The gift of these everyday essentials can mean more than you know.
Another key to healing during times of grief is to help someone else. When we are hurting, it is easy to focus on the negative. When we volunteer, give back and serve, we can take our mind off of our own problems, even if only for a little while, and help someone else. Donating items such as clothing, pots and pans, adopting an angel from the angel tree, volunteering at a local shelter, or making a quilt for someone who may be homeless, can spark instant feelings of satisfaction. Your service to others not only helps someone who is in need, but can also increase your happiness set-point and feelings of purpose.
Sometimes a person who has experienced a loss may want to visit a memorial site, engage in rituals or traditions such as choosing a live tree, or may simply just want to talk. Sometimes people don’t continue traditions because they think it may dishonor the deceased or they don’t want to appear to have moved on to quickly. Let them know that their continued involvement in these things are healthy and ok, and they shouldn’t feel guilty. You can even engage in these traditions with them. Continuing traditions can be a positive way to keep memories alive. People don’t usually talk about their feelings associated with grief because they don’t want to seem awkward, and many don’t know the right thing to say. Encourage them to verbalize their feelings and allow them to be heard.
Ask them what they need or how you can help, instead of playing the guessing game and getting them something they won’t use. If they say there’s nothing you can do, do something anyway. Put yourself in their shoes and ask what would you need most at this time? Or if you’ve experienced a loss, think about what helped you the most during that time. In addition, don’t expect the person to rush through their grief. Although society’s expected norm may be three days of bereavement leave, this is not realistic. The grief process is individual and is different for everyone. There is not a time limit on loss.
During this time of the year, it’s important to note that many existing health conditions may flare or become aggravated due to stress, overwhelm, the swiping of the credit cards and a bit more overindulgence in foods and alcohol. During the bustle and bounce, parties and bacardi, be sure to take time out for yourself. Take a moment to breathe. Continue your fitness routine, and maybe only have one slice of that chocolate covered oreo-dipped caramel hazelnut chocolate chip crusted cheesecake at the office party.
For more information on grief counseling or to schedule a healing or happiness workshop or retreat for your group or organization, contact your local mental health practitioner or Dr. Ronica at (601) 622-1393 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hurt is REAL, but you can HEAL!