Somebody you know is grieving this holiday. It could be a friend, family member, neighbor, or some other person in your community circle.

So, heads up! This may be a providential opportunity. A chance to be the person you’d want showing up if you were grieving. You know…the Golden Rule.

But let’s face it. Most of us feel a little uncomfortable with grief. We’re unsure of what to say.
Or worry that reaching out will offend. Maybe our intended caring will be rejected.

Let me encourage you to put all that aside. Because it’s not about you.

This holiday season, offer support to someone who’s grieving by following these general guidelines.

First, ready your own heart.

Check your “shoulds” at the door. Everyone grieves differently. Your friend, who’s been a widow for a year now, may not be ready yet for holiday parties. Even if you feel she should be. Set an intention of finding out what she wants and needs.

Grief isn’t something to “fix”. It’s a time to just be there for someone. To walk shoulder to
shoulder through their journey.

Next, reach out using a permission-based approach.

Here’s an example of how you could approach a neighbor. “Hi Valerie. Is it okay if I ask you about your holiday plans now that Jack’s gone? (Pause for her answer) We’d like to invite you to join us for dinner if you feel up to it.” (Insert whatever activity you have in mind.)

Let her know what to expect. Some people like the hub-bub of a crowd. Others would prefer something quieter. So, check it out with her.

If she says she’d rather not, ask her if it’s okay to check back another time with a different offering. Let her know your intention is to be there for her.

On the other hand, if your neighbor accepts your invitation, keep these things in mind.

Make your guest feel comfortable. Take time to draw them out by using open ended questions and active listening. But don’t be afraid of some silence either. And if they want to talk about their loved one, let them. For some people it’s part of the healing process. You too can share your memories of their person. It’s an ideal way to honor your guest.

What other things could you do to “walk with someone in their grief”?

Here’s a list of ideas to get you thinking:

  • a holiday lights drive-by tour,
  • a movie night,
  • a TV football game,
  • a local holiday concert,
  • caroling,
  • offer to help address holiday letters (such a tedious chore),
  • an evening of cards, puzzles, and eggnog,
  • offer to help put up decorations (and take them down later),
  • a walk in the park and tea afterwards,
  • and ??? (now it’s your turn).

Finally, grief is part of life.

Which means that most likely, someone you know is grieving this holiday. It may be a recent loss or some time has passed. Whatever the situation, you are in their life for a reason.

Do you personally know what it’s like to face a holiday while mourning? How did you get through? Who helped and how?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share so others can grow in ability and heart capacity to care for one another. And please accept this holiday gift created for you (or those you know who are grieving) as a token to use when needing to reach out during this normally cheerful time.

Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,
Georgena

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