How to ease the pain of missing someone at Christmas
- Light a special candle to acknowledge them – keep the flame going whenever you want to feel they are close, or make them a part of the process.
- Leave a setting for them at the table. Was there a spot they always sat at? Maybe keep their spot free this year and acknowledge them in a toast.
- Make their favourite dish. Did they always want creamy mashed potato with the meal? Don't leave it out this year – make it as a nod to them.
- Give a gift to a child in need or donate to a charity in your loved one's name.
How to support someone grieving at Christmas
- Say any of the following sentences: "At least you had him for all those years you did." "God needed another angel." "Don't be sad – at least he isn't suffering any more." "I know how you feel." "You're still sad? He died three years ago!"
- Avoid them, or not send a Christmas card. Make sure you write to them and acknowledge their loss, while also sending your love and support.
- Ask if they'd like to talk about their loved one. Often we worry that bringing up the subject, or saying their name, will upset the griever – but typically it's the exact opposite. Their loved one is likely on their mind, so they may want the chance to talk about them. They may not be ready to talk, but giving them the option is a caring gesture.
- Communicate what would be helpful and unhelpful – would they rather you didn't talk about their loss this year? Would it be helpful if you cooked a meal for them? Could you drive and accompany them to a function they're worried about going to alone? Often we say to people, "Let me know what I can do to help", but in times of grief we're often too overwhelmed to respond. The tough part is, once we're out of that initial grieving period, we're more aware of what would help – but given the time that's passed we worry about asking for help. Keep checking in, to see what you can do!