- Personal Stories
5 Ways To Support Grieving Families During The Holidays
When someone you care about is grieving, it can be tough to know what to say or do. It’s common to feel helpless, awkward, or unsure. You may be afraid of intruding, saying the wrong thing, or making the person feel even worse. Or maybe you feel there’s little you can do to make things better.
While you can’t take away the pain of the loss, you can provide much-needed comfort and support. Here are 5 tips:
- Acknowledge their death
People who are grieving don’t want their loved ones to be forgotten. Say their name and mention that you are thinking of their loved one. You won’t be “reminding” them of their pain — they’re already living with it. A text message, phone call, or card can go a long way. “It’s been 18 years since we lost our daughter. The biggest misunderstanding I’ve experienced is people talking around or not acknowledging the person you’ve lost as if it is taboo or you are fragile.” – Joe Lastinger
- Offer your presence
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just show up. “Just be there for the ones going through grief during the holidays. Holidays are hard. Very, very hard. Just knowing someone has your back can make all of the difference” – Amber McCarthy
- Offer a tangible reminder of your support
Acknowledge the loved one with a special ornament on your Christmas tree or by making a donation to an organization in memory of the loved one. For example, if someone died from flu or COVID-19, donations to Families Fighting Flu or a local hospital can show that you are thinking of their loved one. This is also a great option to show your support even if you are far away.
- Don’t assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day
Grief ebbs and flows. Offer your support always, but don’t assume that the person will feel the same way all the time. On the other hand, just because it has been years since the death of a loved one, it can still feel raw. “While the loss of a child leaves a wound that will never heal, and the grief of losing Gianna is never gone, it has slowly become more manageable. One thing I know is that the sting of the pain will feel fresh again around the holidays.” – Angie Wehrkamp
- Offer Specific Support
Without knowing what to do, you may be tempted to say something like, “let me know what I can do.” This puts the burden on the grieving person to ask for help. Instead, take the initiative. Some examples include:
- Drop a little gift by their house – and don’t assume you are invited in to chat!
- Bring them a meal
- Offer to take their kids out so the parents can have a moment for themselves
- Offer to go on a walk or get coffee – something short and sweet