As Christmas draws closer and we’re all surrounded by the scent of peppermint and the cheerful sounds of Christmas music, it’s easy to forget not everyone shares our excitement. Christmas for me is the happiest time of the year. My family from near and far gather together to celebrate the holiday and there’s a stirring in the air that’s only caused by our mutual excitement. We send out countdown text messages to each other, and we tag one another in memes with silly messages to express how much we miss each other.
For many people (myself included), this is the happiest time of the year, but to someone who has lost a loved one, it’s the saddest.
My social media newsfeed is filled with three main categories: family pictures, romantic issues, and people going out. Beyond the multitude of baby and food pictures, moving past the pet pictures and cat videos, I can’t help but notice the number of friends and family that are in mourning this holiday season. As one of the few people my age that hasn’t lost a close loved one, sometimes giving comfort and finding the right words is hard. As a nurturer, seeing people who are grieving this holiday and being unsure how to comfort them caused me to investigate how I can show support to each of them.
I’ve narrowed it down to four main categories: keeping in touch, willingness to listen, setting up a memorial, and talking.
Keep in touch: One of the most thoughtful ways to show someone you care is to be there for that person. If you can’t be there physically reach out via phone or even social media, just to let them know you’re there for them if they need somebody. Sometimes the sweetest touch is to go old school and hand-write a letter. This adds a personal and intimate touch, showing this person they are a priority and that you took the time to write this.
Willingness to listen: Somethings people just need to vent. Have a willing shoulder, be the listening ear for someone without passing judgment. Above all, be the solace that person is seeking. Don’t rush the conversation or try to dominate or determine the way the conversation should go. Allow them to steer things if they’re up for talking.
Set up a memorial: A unique present to give this holiday to someone that grieving is an online memorial. Having pictures and shared stories of their departed loved one can help them feel like their family member was a part of this holiday. Want to go old school? Set up a physical memorial or plant a tree in their loved one’s honor.
Talk: Don’t avoid mentioning someone’s passed loved one. I’m guilty of this, a lot of us are, we avoid bringing up people and topics that make us sad. But sometimes doing this doesn’t allow people to heal, they feel people have forgotten about their loved one. Remember the times you shared with that person or stories they shared with you of their loved one. Don’t be scared to mention them, it’ll probably make your friend smile and show them how much you care.
Above all, be there for the person, show them you care and they are loved and cherished. You’re already in the right direction by reading this.