Christmas is typically a holiday filled with joy, happiness and celebration. But to a friend or family member who has just lost a loved one, the holiday season can be a difficult time to navigate. Here are three tips to best support someone who is dealing with grief at Christmas.
Honour Their Wishes
For someone who is grieving, celebrating may be the last thing they want to do this holiday season.
Each person grieves differently but nobody wants to be left off an invitation list – especially for holiday events they typically attend. While you should still send your Christmas party invitation to your grieving family member or friend, it should not be accompanied by the pressure to attend.
Instead, let them know that as much as you would love to see them during the holidays, you will understand if they aren’t up for it.
Then don’t bring it up again – leaving it completely their decision to come or not.
Be Understanding and Supportive
Maybe they want to spend the day on the couch watching movies. Maybe they want to get away to a tropical island. Or maybe they want to continue celebrating the holiday seasons in a similar way to past years.
However (and wherever) your friend or family member decides to spend the holidays is okay. Although their choices may have an impact on you, try to be supportive and encourage them to do whatever they want to. A change of scenery or a break in tradition may be exactly what they need to help them through their grief.
If they do RSVP that they will be attending a holiday celebration but don’t end up showing up, try to be flexible and understanding. As frustrating as no-shows can be if you are the host, remember that grief is unpredictable. Your grieving friend may have had complete intention to come up until the moment they left their home when their grief became too overwhelming.
Being there for your grieving friend or family member is one of the best things you can do for them this holiday season.
Offer practical help and support in any way possible. Maybe it’s sitting with them while they reminisce about past Christmases or perhaps it’s listening to their struggles about trying to make it through the holidays alone. Whatever it is, just try to listen – and hold off on offering any advice unless it’s asked for.
Our local funeral home in Hamilton, Ontario offers numerous grief resources including interactive aftercare, 365 Days of Grief Support and referrals to an Executive Counseling Director. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your friend or family member through the upcoming Christmas season.