Do you ever wish you knew exactly what to say or do for a friend that is hurting during the holidays? Sometimes it may feel so awkward, that you just stay away, because you don’t want to do the wrong thing. I know from both sides, that this is a hard topic. However, because of some very gracious friends, the sting of the holidays has been eased by the balm of their love and friendship.
- Show up. Just being there is the most valuable gift you can give to a grieving friend. If they are alone, invite them to share the holidays with your family. Allow them the space to come for part of the time or decline if they are not up to it at all. The most important thing is that you make yourself available. Sometimes we feel like we need to speak words that will solve their grief. But, there is no solving their grief, some of the greatest comfort I’ve received is when no words were spoken at all. I remember during an extremely difficult day after Nicole went to Heaven. I was laying on the living room floor and one of my dear friends just came in. She sat next to me on the floor with her legs crossed, gently placed her hand on my head and stroked my hair as I cried. She didn’t say a word, she was just there.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one. We may feel inclined not to bring up their loss, for fear that we may cause their grief to be stirred up and make them sad. It is important to realize that they are always aware of the loss and most of the time, just worried that their loved one will be forgotten. I still love to hear other people talk about our daughter Nicole and share special memories of her. My friend Nellie would send me letters, not just at the holidays, but throughout the first year or so. She would write about how she was thinking of Nicole and how that thought had encouraged her.
- Give a small gift or token in memory of their loved one. I have a precious friend named Cindy who every year for the first 10 years after losing Nicole gave me a Christmas ornament in memory of her. Now, I can’t help but smile when I get ready to decorate the tree and see all those ornaments given in love. It reminds me that I am loved. It may be an act of service in their loved one’s name. Giving blood, serving at a soup kitchen or planting a tree in their yard. It can be anything that you do from your heart that honors the memory of the one they have lost.
I am so thankful for the people that God has sent to our family who have carried us through the hard years of transitioning during the holiday season. They have taught us what true friendship looks like and it encourages me to be that kind of friend.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4