Chances are, those who have said goodbye to a friend or family member this year need your love, care and support more than ever. Of course, there’s no ‘right’ way to support a grieving friend. What helps some, might not help others, and so it can feel challenging to decipher how to best help your grieving friend, especially if their grief response is a little different to yours.
We’ve put this guide together to help you help your friend when they need it most, this holiday season. While they no doubt miss their loved one every single day of the year, the December / January holiday period can often feel most challenging, with many experiencing secondary loss during this time. Here’s how you can help your grieving friend this festive season.
1. Include them in your festivities
There’s no better way to say goodbye to a below average year than by partying it away. Invite your friend to your end-of-year celebrations, family gatherings, or any events you think they might be keen on joining you for. If they’re busy or don’t feel up to it, that’s a-okay! All that matters is that they feel thought of, included, and as though they have people they can enjoy the festivities with if they choose to celebrate.
2. Accept changed plans and late cancellations
While they might’ve felt up to all-things festive when you originally made plans with them, it’s possible your friend may change their mind, especially when it comes to seeing the plans through. Remember that grief is a little like a roller coaster; while we might feel okay and up to socialising one day, we might also feel like cosying up on the couch with a box of tissues the next. Be patient with your friend as they ride through the waves of grief, and let them know you’re there if they need you should they choose to stay home instead of venturing out as planned.
3. Send them a thoughtful message or card
If you’re out of town (or they’re out of town) during the holiday season, there’s no better way to show your bestie you care than to shoot them a thoughtful text, card or postcard, letting them know you’re thinking of them. And if timezones permit, a phone call also never goes astray. There are always ways to reach out and show them you care, even when you’re miles away.
4. Make a donation in their honour
If you donate to a charity you’re passionate about every year, consider donating to one that’ll mean something to them this year. From cancers to heart disease, aged care homes to mental health facilities, there’s always an organisation you can donate to that’ll mean a lot to your friend. A simple Google search goes a long way, and there’s nothing more meaningful than supporting a cause close to your friend’s heart while they’re experiencing grief.
5. Reach out
Although the first holiday without a loved one can be hard, every single holiday season that follows can be just as difficult. So, remember to reach out every year, not just this year.
No matter where in the world you’re celebrating this holiday season from, there are always a myriad of ways you can reach out and show your friend you’re thinking of them. Reach out, invite them to your celebrations, and be patient with them while they no doubt grieve. The holiday season can be a hard time for many.