Grief at the Holidays—When You’re Not the One Grieving

The holiday time is filled with so much of everything—food, layers of clothing, Christmas parties, traditions, traveling, and desserts! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and yet for some it can be a conflicted time, filled with moments that are heartwarming, and memories that are heartbreaking. How do we ever get through the holidays when we’ve lost someone or something that is so important? Maybe you haven’t lost anyone this year or in the previous years, but perhaps you care about someone who has. Your world may still be going on, holidays are joyful and jamming, but when you think of your friend maybe the music stops, and you remember that right now she’s probably having a blue Christmas. What can you do to help her? There is no amount of fruitcake, no special recipe of Wassel that will dissolve the painful coldness of grief. There are no magic words, not even the kind from Hallmark, that can truly bring healing to a person who is grieving. So is there hope to help then? If we can’t talk grief away, can’t eat or drink, or gift it away, how do we help our friend, sibling, spouse, co-worker?

I once heard that the reason two are better than one, is because with company, joy is multiplied, and sorrow is divided. I have learned this saying to be true. Grief is completely uncomfortable, unpredictable and unapologetic. But it doesn’t have to be lonely. If you have two hands, two ears, two hours, or two minutes, you can share that grief with your loved one. You can take the time to send a text asking, “how is your grief today?”, you can call and say, “I remembered how much Bob loved to take you and the kids to see the Christmas lights, and I wanted to check in on you.” You can invite that friend over or out for coffee/tea and just sit with them—no words need to be said. What is important for both you and for your friend is that she/he knows that you remember. Sometimes we don’t say anything because we don’t know what to say, or don’t want to bring up sad memories. I can assure you that those memories are there, if you mention them or not. By mentioning it, and remembering with your friend/co-worker/spouse, just allows you to share and divide the grief him. With all the extra that goes on during this holiday season, please don’t forget to give a little extra love towards your person who is grieving.

You may also check out 5 Ways to Support Those Struggling with Depression

Loss- Not Just Something You Get Over

Jenny Linville, LPCA, MTS, is a therapist at Compass Counseling in Paducah.  If you or a loved one needs help processing grief you can give us a call at 270-777-4490 in Paducah or 270-215-4000 in Owensboro for more information. Compass also offers online counseling & telehealth therapy throughout the state of Kentucky.

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