The Gift of Support for the Grieving

The holiday season is a joyous time of year marked by celebrations with family and friends.  However, if you know some one struggling with the death of a loved one, the holidays may create painful reminders that emphasize their sense of loss.  
This is true for me because my grandmother passed last month and my Dad three years ago. While I am so blessed to have wonderful memories, they are accompanied by the pain I feel from the loss of their still not being here to share in my life and see my children grow up. 
Often we are unsure how to act or what to say to support folks who are grieving loved ones during the holidays. So I found these tips provided by some Counselors from a community based grief support program in Ohio:
·     Do not struggle with finding the “right” words to say. A simple “I’m sorry” is often enough. Can’t tell you how often I used to put my foot in my mouth then after I suffered a loss I understood that less is more…
·     If you do not know what to do, ask yourself, “What would I like done for me under these circumstances?” It’s okay to be direct. Just ask grieving friends what they need.
·     If you are unable to tolerate extremely painful mourning, help from afar. Offer to help with chores or running errands.  Never tell a grieving friend not to cry because you are not able to bear it. Weeping is essential so don’t discourage the tears. It’s normal and okay.
·     Share your own grieving experiences, but use good judgment. Only share that which will offer hope and survival.
·     Include grieving friends in social invitations, but be sure to allow them to freely accept or refuse without pressure.
·     Use good judgment in how long to visit. Grieving friends will be grateful you are there, but not comfortable asking you to leave.
·     Acknowledge the loss. This can be said simply and directly or send a note, flowers, or a donations to charities in their name.
·     Sharing spiritual beliefs that are uplifting can give great support; you may even help them find a  Grief Share group at a local church. Praying together can create a sense of unity.
·     Do not withdraw support too quickly after the funeral. This could create another sense of loss.
Now you know what to do and you can give a gift of support to someone and help them feel comforted during the holidays! What a great feeling it will be.
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