Reach out to those who are grieving PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 21 December 2012 09:49
Hospice of Northwest Ohio at Perrysburg offers the following advice for those who want to reach out to people who are grieving at the holidays:
• Be proactive in talking about the person's lost loved one. Try to be a good listener and to be patient and non-judgmental.
• Don't put a time limit on someone's grief. Recognize that everyone grieves at a pace that is uniquely their own and that the holidays can still be painful, even if they experienced their loss some time ago.
• Be aware of what NOT to say. Avoid saying: "I know just how you feel." (Grief is a unique, personal experience. Nobody knows exactly how another person feels and most grieving people resent the implication.) "You'll get over it in time." (No one ever gets totally "over it." Until a person has reached a certain point in the grief process, he or she can't even imagine feeling normal again.) "She/he's better off this way." or "It was God's will." (That may be true, but it doesn't erase the survivor's feelings of grief.) "Life is for the living." (Eventually, a grieving person will be able find joy in living. However, it usually seems like an unrealistic concept early in the grief process.)  
• Be flexible in your expectations. A grieving person experiences a roller coaster of emotions and is even more vulnerable to those feelings at holiday time.
• Offer practical, hands-on assistance in preparing for the holidays. Don't just say, "Let me know if there is anything I can do." Make specific suggestions of how you are willing to help, and suggest a specific time to do it. For example: offer to take the person shopping or to help him or her with gift-wrapping; set a date to bake cookies or to decorate the house.
• Open up your home or arrange for a special holiday gathering that includes a number people who have lost loved ones, recently as well as in the past. They will enjoy conversing with others who can relate to how they feel and are at various stages in the grief process. Or, invite the person to dine with your family, alone.
• Share the community spirit by taking the person on a drive to see the holiday lights or arranging to take him or her to a holiday concert, holiday bazaar, or special religious service. Put his or her home on a caroling route.
• Help the person reach out to others by inviting him or her to work on a charity project or lend their special talents to a church or community effort.
• Know that being "present" is the greatest gift you can give. Drop by for visits that have no agenda. Send encouraging notes or special holiday greetings that contain photos, poems or something else that would be meaningful. Deliver a special holiday treat, decoration, or floral arrangement. End every visit with a hug! And remember, grief is a year-round experience. Your presence is a cherished gift every day of the year.

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