9 Tips to Aid Grieving Friends During the Holidays

A variety of free Healing Arts Workshops, such as this "Fabric & Feelings" session, use art therapy as a tool to help those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. No special artistic skills are necessary to participate. (Photo by Bob Perkoski) 

Those who are grieving often remark that they would like to skip over all holidays, skip the month of December and emerge on Jan. 2. The absence of a loved one is palpable during the season of family-centered activities and feelings of acute grief are heightened. Providing comfort, hope and support is a priceless gift to grieving friends.

Consider these tips:

1. Be there. Your presence is the most valuable thing you can give. Invite them into your home or to participate in your celebrations. Allow them to freely accept or refuse the invitation.

2. Actively listen. Sit near your grieving friend. Hold their hand, give a hug, pass a tissue and cry with them. Talk if your friend wants to talk. Keep silent if your friend prefers silence.

3. Be sensitive to verbal and non-verbal cues. Become informed of normal grief reactions and observe how they are affecting your friend’s ability to cope.  Remember that grief often robs people of their energy.

4. Give private time to your friend, but never let them feel like they are alone.  Feeling alone increases feelings of emptiness and despair.

5. Be patient. Everyone grieves at their own pace. Allow your friend to retell the story of the death and memories of the past.

6. Be helpful with practical matters. Run errands. Bring food to the home. Help with household and holiday chores. Address cards, wrap gifts or mail packages.

7. Be real. Share your own grieving experiences but use good judgment. Share that which offers hope and survival. Do not belittle your friend’s grief.

8. Use good judgment in how long to visit. Grieving friends will be grateful you are there, but not comfortable asking you to leave.

9. Offer hope. Hold on to the thought that although loved ones are no longer physically with us they will always remain in our hearts.

The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center is a community resource available to anyone who has experienced a loss through death. Trained grief support specialists welcome the opportunity to help those who can benefit from support, understanding and guidance during this difficult time.Generous funding support from the community allows Hospice of the Western Reserve to offer most programs and services free of charge or at a very low cost.

Grief support resources include:

  • Individual sessions

  • Six-week support groups

  • Monthly support groups

  • Camps

  • Family programs

  • Art Therapy

  • Drum Circles

  • Weekly yoga

 For more information, call 216.486.6838, or visit the website at www.hospicewr.org

Laurie Henrichsen

Diane Snyder Cowan, Director of the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 5:18 PM, 12.06.2015