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Healing During the Holidays

Many people dread the holidays, especially those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Every holiday celebration becomes an unbearable event making them feel sad, lonely, hopeless, anxious, angry, stressed, and depressed. We see the tears in their eyes and sadness on their faces. The question is, “What can we do to comfort and help them?”

One of the greatest gifts you can give to the bereaved during the holidays is yourself. The love that you have in your heart is medicine for a broken heart and wounded spirit. Your empathetic presence, acts of kindness and words of wisdom can get them through the holidays. Try these tips:

  1. Encourage them to express their grief and listen non-judgmentally.

  2. Do not offer your solution or answer, help them discover their own.

  3. Do not compare your experiences with theirs. Everyone’s loss is unique.

  4. They are not obligated to fulfill old holiday traditions. They can do something new and different.

  5. Pray for them and offer to pray with them.

  6. Volunteer your time and service.

  7. Encourage them to talk to God, a grief counselor, clergy person or empathetic friend.

  8. Encourage them to journal their thoughts or write a letter to the deceased.

  9. Encourage them to talk about the deceased or visit the grave site. Tell them, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

  10. Make periodic phone calls and check up on them.

  11. Discourage them from using drugs or alcohol to anesthetize the pain.

  12. Give them a card, gift, flowers, or a meal.

  13. Share a comforting scripture or positive thought.

  14. Remind them that “death ends a life, not a relationship.”

  15. Encourage them to take care of themselves physically, emotionally and spiritually.

  16. Give a gift or render a service in memory of deceased loved ones.

  17. Encourage them to engage in a hobby or an activity that makes them happy.

  18. Tell them they must love themselves, before they can love others.

  19. Encourage them to be inspired by the legacy and memory of the deceased.

From Dr. Samuel White, III’s Healing During the Holidays: God Heals the Bereaved. He is the senior pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Detroit, Spiritual Care Manager at PACE SEMI and founder of the Agape Theological Seminary.

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