No one wants sadness to be part of the holidays — no one. Grief has its own agenda and everyone goes through it differently. It’s not a like you can turn off the grief faucet. Even time cannot heal all the hurts you feel inside especially during the holiday season, a time for family and friends. So if your friend or loved one is hurting this time of year, the best thing you can do is to be there and listen.
It’s a Process
We’ve all heard about the stages of grieving — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It does help to recognize that what we are feeling is quite normal, but the hurt is still there. It’s hard to think about a merry Christmas when all you want to do is hide and cry yourself to sleep. But we shouldn’t live this life alone. There are people who need you and want to be there for you. Isolating yourself can be the worst thing and can lead you into a deep depression. Make yourself get out and find that soul who will help you talk it out or cry it out or just hold your hand.
Stress is a robber and grief can be the worse stress you’ve ever encountered. Sleep well, eat well and get out and exercise in the light. Getting sick is the last thing you need, so take care of yourself even when you don’t feel like it. Just sticking to a routine can help you get through the day. Stay connected with your faith and use those resources available to you through your church, synagogue, or mosque. Just knowing someone is praying for you somehow can help.
It’s Time to Get Over it!
Oh, really? Perhaps your loved one was married for over 50 years. Do you think it might take a few years just to feel somewhat normal again? When it’s your mom or dad who’s grieving, our grief can get in the way. This is the time you need to step up and realize you can grieve together and make it better. I know you want a happy holiday season, but let your parent talk about it. Don’t try to tell them something wise — just listen. Let them get it out. When they are done, you can share your feelings. No platitudes needed. They hurt more than help.
Children — the Great Healers
We can talk to our children about how granny or grandpa is feeling. They are sad too, but they have a huge capacity for empathy. Just their sweet faces can make any older person feel better. Many of them are great listeners and usually non-judgmental. What a great combination. Sometimes their activity is distracting and that can be a good thing. Don’t shield your children from the sadness but let them know they are strong enough to help others through it. Their hugs and kisses can be so healing.
Including Them in the Activities
Without over-burdening them, do try to keep your loved one busy. Keep them involved in the preparations when possible. Remind them often just how much you love them. Don’t wait for them to call — you be the one. Sometimes a grieving person doesn’t want to burden others. Be available even when they seem to not want you around. Grieving is not a pleasant process but you and your loved one will get through it if you have each other.
The Time to Worry and Get Help
If it’s been a year or longer and you notice your loved one has neglected their health and hygiene, it’s time to get help. Watch for listlessness, withdrawal, isolation, uncontrollable anger or sadness. Reach out to their doctor or call a grief counselor. Help is out there. For more information you may go to grief.com.