Reverend Pat Kriss: Six Ways You Can Support Someone Who's Grieving
(Posted November 22, 2018)
This coming Sunday, we will be holding our annual Remembrance and Healing service, when everyone is invited to bring a picture of someone they love who is missing in their lives this year, and to hang it on our bare Christmas trees. That way these beloved people become the basis of our tree decoration, and very much a part of the next week’s service when we fill the trees with ornaments. And at the midpoint of our service, I will be offering a hands-on healing and blessing to all who desire it.
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Services begin at 10 a.m. All are welcome.
How to support someone who's grieving
In the meantime, however, I realize that you may also have among your friends and family people who are grieving their loss, just as the holiday festivities get underway. The question arises in your mind, “how do I support a grieving person best at this time of the year?” Some quick tips:
- Don’t feel inadequate because you cannot “fix it” for the grieving person. You can, however, help.
- Realize that the best gift you can give is to simply be present for the bereaved person.
- Don’t be afraid to mention the name of the person who died. In fact if your grieving person is coming to your house for the holidays, with his/her permission, include that person’s memory in your conversations. It can be very helpful if the good times with that person are worked into the holiday discussions of friends and family. It keeps them a part of everyone’s lives.
- Realize that it’s perfectly OK “not to be OK” during this time. Invite but do not coerce the grieving person to attend your holiday dinner. Let them decide what they can handle.
- Realize that friends who are caring for a person in hospice care are already grieving. Treat them tenderly and with the greatest of care. They need you the most at the end of this journey.
- If it’s been a while that this person has been grieving, even if it’s been years, don’t criticize them in your mind for “not getting over it.”
Grief is a highly personal experience, and healing doesn’t occur in a straight line. It often comes alive again when the one left behind encounters a certain smell or a special location that reminds them of the missing loved one.
In every sense of the word, you are the best gift for the person who mourns. You are the gift of God’s love and presence, even if a single word isn’t spoken. In a dark world, you are the Christmas Star. May the best side dish on your Thanksgiving table be big, heaping spoonfuls of love. – Pastor Pat Kriss