Grief is a powerful emotion that can be exacerbated during certain times of the year. Milestones like birthdays and anniversaries can be particularly difficult. So too can the holiday season. Because so many of our holiday memories prominently feature loved ones, spending the holidays without those familiar faces can be extremely difficult. If you know of someone who has recently lost a loved one, these tips may be helpful for helping them through a difficult time.
- Be flexible
Many of us think that including family members coping with grief and loss in our normal, established traditions will be best for them. That's not always the case, however. It's important not to force anything on any individual. For some, those traditions will be comforting and help them feel normal. But for others, those traditions will only call attention to the fact that someone special isn't there to share them. So, be flexible during holiday gatherings and open to changing the usual routine.
An alternative to the normal holiday traditions is to volunteer to help those less fortunate. This can be a wonderful activity for those who have recently lost a loved one. It allows them to stay busy, while doing something truly meaningful and worthwhile. It's also a great way to strengthen the bond between the grieving individual and yourself. When you're finished volunteering, you'll likely find that both of your spirits have been lifted.
Another common mistake made when attempting to help a grieving loved one is to avoid talking about or remembering the recently deceased. In actuality, it can be an integral part of the healing process. Think of it this way. When someone dies, we don't want to forget them. We can actually be strengthened by realizing that they'll never be forgotten. It can be painful at first, but if the grieving individual is ready, it can be a wonderful experience to take some time to talk about memories of the deceased, look at old pictures of them, or just let them know that you're thinking about both of them. This will often lead to the individual wanting to share their feelings with you. That's when it's important to be ready to listen.
There's often an outpouring of support just after someone has died for their surviving relatives. After a few weeks, however, most of us have returned to our normal routines. A similar process tends to take place around the holidays. Because we recognize this season can be difficult, we place a special emphasis on helping our friend or family member with their loss. After the holidays, however, we often go back to our routine, leaving that individual alone again. Making time for a grieving loved one this holiday season is important, but so too is continuing to help them even after the holidays. Make plans to check back in after a few days to see how they're doing. Try to follow up with them periodically just to chat, or to offer to help them with chores or errands.
At Cura-HPC, we value the opportunity we have to impact the quality of our patients' lives, and the lives of their loved ones. Our hospice services include helping the families of our patients prepare and cope with loss. To learn more or to find out if hospice care is right for you or a loved one, contact us at 800-797-3839.