Telling someone that they shouldn’t be sad, or that the person they are grieving wouldn’t want them to be sad may deter them from being honest with you about their feelings.
Grief can cause us to feel a wide range of emotions, including sadness, jealousy, anger, resentment, and anxiety. These emotions can put stress on our relationships. If you have a friend who’s grieving, you may feel confused and disappointed because your friend has not been acting like themselves.
Here are a few tips to help you or a friend handle grief during the holidays
Ask For and Accept Help
Instead of assuming or telling a grieving person what they might need to do, you can ask them what might feel good. Allowing those who care about you to assist may lessen your feelings of loneliness.
Even though we may mean well, giving unsolicited advice on how someone is handling the holidays is not always helpful. People experiencing grief may not be able to process that your advice is well meaning, and perceive it as criticism.
Share A Memory and Create New Ones
Sharing memories you have in common or ones they may not have heard before is a great way to be present and acknowledge someone’s loss. Sometimes, it may help to focus on the new memories you can make today, knowing that you’re not alone in how you feel.
It can be helpful to spend time with other people who have been through the grief process themselves, as often they may let you be “alone but not alone” when you just need company and they won’t place any additional stress or expectation on you. If you have a friend who is grieving, simply being present and nonjudgmental can be a powerful gift.
It’s ok to have boundaries as you grieve during the holidays. You get to decide who you spend your time with and give your energy to, if it’s traditional for you to do things with a certain group of people. If you are the friend of someone who is grieving, you can respect their boundaries and try not to take it personally.