How to Support a Loved One Who Is Grieving Over the Holidays

Our dedicated staff at Woodlawn Cemetery recognizes how difficult the holiday season can be for our grieving neighbors across the Bronx. Holiday traditions can trigger painful memories of those who are no longer with us. It can be stressful knowing exactly how to support those you love who are grieving, especially at this time of year.

Here are some ways to support a loved one who is grieving over the holidays:

Invite them to your home for a holiday celebration.

Though it might be easy to assume that a grieving loved one won’t feel like attending a holiday event, it might be the very thing they need at this sensitive and difficult time. Invite them to join your family or friends in celebrating the holiday at your home. 

Meet them where they are.

On the flip side, respect your loved one’s boundaries for what they feel up to doing as far as festive gatherings go. Do your best not to compare this year’s holiday activities to those of previous ones. Options are great: Perhaps your loved one would prefer to enjoy a small family meal over attending a large holiday party. A variety of choices can help your loved one navigate their own feelings, preferences, and boundaries.

Talk to them about their grief.

Grieving people often say that the least helpful thing others can do is act like their loved one never existed. To get ahead of this tendency, try mentioning their loved one’s name when it feels natural to do so. Ask the grieving person in your life how they’re feeling and practice active listening in return.

Offer to help with holiday activities.

Holiday activities can be energy-draining, especially when grief plays a role in seasonal preparations. Volunteer to assist your loved one with these wherever you can. They might like a helping hand in the kitchen baking their signature gingerbread cookies. Writing and mailing holiday cards is another time-consuming activity with which your loved one might appreciate the help.

Give them options.

If your loved one prefers to forego all things festive this year, try to be sympathetic and offer up neutral alternative activities such as taking a walk outside or sharing a cup of coffee. If you’re unsure how to be there for them, gently ask them what they’d prefer to do.  

Keep a timetable off the table.  

Try to respect your loved one’s timeline as far as the holidays are concerned. If they’re not ready to put up their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve night when they usually decorate the morning of December 1st, honor their decision and follow their lead. Grief has no set timeline and requires being sensitive to a grieving person’s emotions and how these often dictate their behavior.

We want our neighbors across the New York area to know we are here to support them in their grief for however long it lasts. Reach out to us today to learn more about our grief support services and the ways in which we can help you celebrate life.