Well, it is that time of the year. The smell of Thanksgiving is already in the air and Christmas decorations and music are in every store. It is no secret that holidays are tough for people missing someone they love. For us with Oliver, we of course wonder what our 13-year-old boy would want under the tree? What would be his wish?
The internet is full, and I mean full (it might actually have to shut down) on tips for getting through the holidays if you are grieving and tips for helping people in grief to get through the holidays. They offer plenty of good ideas and are worth reviewing, but many come down to one idea — be in communion with others. Connect, sit, talk, listen, or be silent, but be with other people. If you want to send an e-card to connect with someone, Sheryl Sandberg’s organization dealing with grief, called “Option B,” offers some free, unique options.
How to handle grief and help those in grief during the holidays?
Be in communion with them.
Christmas in our home is always a challenge. Oliver LOVED Christmas and I want to go big on the holiday because of that. For the same reason, Christmas is especially difficult for Mary Ann and she may almost wish it would disappear. Same event, different responses. Both responses make perfect sense. Welcome to grieving as a couple.
Add into that scenario our other growing children. My daughter and her husband will head back to Illinois with our granddaughter on Christmas Eve. Our 20-year-old college student thinks Christmas break is for sleeping in until noon every day. And our oldest son and his wife will come over, but 30 somethings just don’t jump up and down when opening gifts. It is different. And it would be different with a 13-year-old Oliver in the mix.
So my advice to those in grief? Feel free to grieve while recognizing that everyone around you also in grief are grieving in different ways. My advice to those supporting people in grief? Simply be present for people in whatever makes you and them comfortable (note: not everyone likes to be hugged!).
With a smaller family at home, the three of us decided that this year we will do something instead of sitting around waiting for the day to pass. We will serve a Christmas day lunch to the homeless at a local men’s shelter. (Yes, we are just such wonderful human beings). Actually, they’ll be doing us a favor as we get to serve others and keep busy. Plus, these people also understand suffering and being reminded that we do not suffer alone is always good — we’ll be in communion with others.