Holiday-Time Help for Someone in Grief
by Marta Felber.
Holiday times are among the
hardest for those who have lost a loved one. Memories come flooding back,
and the longing for the person who is gone may feel almost unbearable.
Bereaved persons have
special needs. What gifts are appropriate for them? Here are five
gift-giving ideas for persons who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
the gift of understanding. “This
must be such a difficult time for you,” you might offer.
“Tell me how it is for you; I want to hear.”
Help the person to plan for this season, being realistic and kind
to themselves as they plan. They may need your support to say no to some
traditional responsibilities. Be sensitive when inviting them to take part
in festivities and give them an out, “I’d love to have you, but I
understand if you don’t feel like it. Or maybe you’d like to come for
just a little while.”
the gift of memories. Share the
memories you have of the person who died. The person grieving for their
loved one is longing to hear these. It is one way of keeping their loved
one close. Use the person’s name, not “your husband” or, “your
mother.” What did you
appreciate about the person? Recall the pleasant experiences that you
shared. Incidents unknown to the grieving person are the best. Encourage
them to tell their memories of holidays past with their loved one, even if
you have heard these stories many times.
gifts they can touch. Look through
your photos for one of the loved one that they may not have and put it in
a special frame. Perhaps you have a letter you have kept from the person
who died that you can share. Find a beautifully bound journal in which
they can write their thoughts and feelings. Or choose an appropriate book
from the many on grief and healing. A cheerful blooming potted plant would
brighten their home and remind them that you care. Fill a basket with
treats that you know they like that might tempt their appetite at a time
when they may not feel like eating.
the gift of yourself. Call
frequently, with “Just thinking about you and wondering how your day is
going.” Stay in the present
with the person in grief; that is the only place they can be. So refrain
from the “It-will-get-better” type of messages. Help the person with
any jobs that they choose to do, like decorating, writing cards, or their
and sit quietly with them. Tune in to
where they are, not where you are. If they begin to cry, let them cry and
just be with them. Best of all, listen, really listen — because that is
the most appreciated gift you can give.
the gift of love. Say the words “I
love you,” if you really mean it. The person in grief needs desperately
to hear that message. If both of you are “touching people,” give
frequent hugs. If not, make physical contact in some way: touch their arm
or hold their hand. And, whenever you are with this person, let the love
and caring that you feel fill your eyes. They will see it there and know
you are sincere.
Felber is the author of Grief
Expressed: When a Mate Dies.
Copyright © 1997 by Marta Felber. $24.95
for the Deluxe Gift Edition that is bound in a European style cover (with
extended cover flaps) and is packaged in a gold foil-stamped sleeve.
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