Sunday, December 8, 2013

Helping At the Holiday Season

The holidays are here. For many who have had a child, sibling or grandchild die, holidays can be a sad reminder of happier family times. Friends and family would like to help but most times don't know what to do. They don't want to say or do something to upset the bereaved, so do nothing, making it worse. In a recent online newsletter, I found a list of ideas for how you can provide support to a grieving family during the holiday season.

**Recognize the holidays have changed for them- don't pretend they haven't.

**Offer to do the holiday shopping/gift wrapping

**Offer to address holiday cards.

**Coordinate holiday activities with surviving siblings. Don't forget them during this important time.

**Invite the family for dinner instead of expecting them to host.

**Be open to the idea that the family may want to end old traditions that have suddenly become painful for them. Suggest new traditions that incorporate the child who died.

**Respect the family's privacy. Don't press for a commitment just to get them involved and out of the house.

**Offer support and patience.

**Give space to grieve, but don't feel responsible to get someone through their grief.

**Express feelings for the grieving person by acknowledging that they are hurting. Give encouragement that they will get through this. Don't try to hurry the process.

**Send a card or note supporting the individual. Recognize and acknowledge that some days are good, some are not so good.

**Reminisce. The number one fear of bereaved parents is that their child will be forgotten. Give them the opportunity to talk about their child and join them in sharing remembrances of better times.

**Above all, don't avoid grieving parents, siblings and grandparents. It is not contagious!

List continues next Sunday...