How To Help a Grieving Friend Through the Holidays

Do you know someone who has lost a loved one?  Has a friend of yours suffered the death of an important person?  Do you feel unsure of what to say or what to do to make it better for them during this season of holiday cheer?  Here are some tips on how to support your friend through this hard time of the year:

  1. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your friend’s loss in front of them. By mentioning their loved one’s name, you let your friend know that you are thinking of that person too and that you recognize the difficult time they’re having.
  2. Don’t assume that your grieving friend wants to be left alone or removed from party invitation lists just because they’ve had a loss. Give them the option of choosing how much or how little they would like to participate in the holidays. Ask them what you can do to make the holidays easier for them.
  3. Offer to help your friend with decorating, holiday baking, shopping or gift wrapping. Grief is an energy zapper and getting holiday tasks complete may seem insurmountable when living with loss.
  4. If you’re having a party and are inviting someone who is particularly sad this season, consider having a quiet, private area where that person can step away from the crowd to collect their thoughts and feelings.
  5. Try to encourage your friend to take care of themselves. Discourage alcohol and drug use. “Having a toast in memory of the deceased” could quickly spiral into poor coping and unhealthy habits.
  6. Understand that there are no magic words to “fix” someone’s grief. When your friend gets upset in front of you, it’s okay if you don’t know what to say to them. Sometimes just sitting beside someone or offering a hug is what’s best.

Sometimes the holidays can be particularly difficult for anyone who has had a loss, regardless of how long ago their loved one died.  Certain songs, foods and traditions can trigger memories that could send anyone into a brief moment of grief emotion.  Sitting through those moments, acknowledging the thoughts and the feelings endured and then refocusing on the current reasons for celebration may help keep a positive atmosphere through the season.


9 thoughts on “How To Help a Grieving Friend Through the Holidays”

  1. Kind considerations in a season where grief is raised to enormous heights for those of us who have lost children. It’s a monumental task to make it through the holidays in those first years, particularly. But hold on and hold tight to those still here. Talk about the soul who has gone before you. Pray to your loved one or your precious deceased child to strengthen you through this walk which is so arduous.

    And, finally, be around children and the joy they exude. It will help you. It helped me 16 years ago and it still does.

    1. Mary Jane,
      I’s hard to believe it’s been16 yrs. since Katie passed. She touched so many lives During time. Nadine posted a picture on Facebook and Martin and I were trying to remember names. We always know Katie’s picture and love her smile and spirit. This article is right on. I’m not looking forward to the next few weeks. Larry passed on New Years Eve morning of 2014. I’m sure it’s never easy. Wishing you and the family Christmas Blessing. Kate Norton

  2. My friends sister passed only a few months ago, it’s awful this time of year but my friend knows im here for her always.Iv lost friends and lost people close to me, the pain is awful.20 years on the end of October this year my father passed.God it hurts so much every day he’s in my head and heart.I miss him so much.

  3. My other halfs dad died on this day 7 years ago. It is still very hard for him at this time of year. It has helped just talking to him about his dad and saying what a great person he was.

  4. It’s so hard, I lost my older sister 2 months ago. It’s so fresh, like an open wound. I miss her so much and I pray that she is enjoying the holidays with family that went before her. How do you deal with a loss at the 1st Christmas? ? Since her passing it’s been so hard for me to keep it all together. Is this normal? Will it ever get easier? My parents have both passed, years ago and I don’t quite remember it being so hard on me emotionally.

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