Chances are you know someone who is celebrating this year’s holiday season without a loved one. Whether it is a result of cancer or COVID, the loss is overwhelming. The pain one experiences is often exacerbated by the holidays and the absence of their loved one.
How do you support those that may be experiencing this? What do you say? How should you act?
Here are some tips from people missing their own loved ones:
- Tone matters—talk to the grieving person in a normal voice.
- Do not ask if they are ok—they are not; but know that it is ok for them not to be ok.
- Do not ask what you can do—just do it! Pick up groceries or make a meal.
- Do not take it personally if they decline an invitation to a holiday event—the person needs time to grieve.
- Check in on the grieving person, but do not smother them—gently remind them that you are there.
- Allow them to talk as much as they need to about their loved one, even if you have heard the same story multiple times.
- Do not dismiss their feelings by trying to “cheer” them up—let them know it is ok to be sad.
- It is important not to treat them differently—they are the same person even though they are grieving.
- Do not be afraid to sit in silence —sometimes words are not needed, just a shoulder to cry on.
Unfortunately, death and loss are inevitable; however, life does not stop. Knowing how to support those that are grieving helps them adjust to their loss and create a new normal.
May peace and comfort surround you this holiday season!
Jean Schoen is the founder and president of Cancer Connection of Northwest Ohio, Inc. (419-725-1100).