01 December 2014

How to help a grieving person this festive season

Holiday joy can be lost on someone grieving the death of a loved one. 'Let them know you care,' says an expert.

The festive season can be hard for those who are mourning the death of a loved one. But supportive family and friends can help the bereaved cope with this difficult period, experts say.

Read: What to do when someone dies

"One of the best ways to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care and that their loved one is not forgotten," J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organisation, said in a news release from the group.

Here are some suggestions from the organisation:

Be supportive

Be supportive of how the person chooses to approach the holidays.

While some may wish to continue traditions, others may want to avoid them and do something new.

Offer to help with holiday activities such as decorating, baking and shopping.

These tasks can seem overwhelming for someone who is grieving.

Invite the person over

Invite the person to your home during the holidays, or ask them to attend a religious service or to volunteer with you.

Doing something for others – such as working with children or helping at a soup kitchen – may help the bereaved feel better about the holidays.

Be willing to listen, and never tell someone that they need to get over the death of their loved one.

Read: The phases of grief

Stay in touch through phone calls, visits and cards, and remind the bereaved that you're thinking about them and their loved one who died.

"Lending an ear and holding a hand can be one of the greatest gifts we can give," Schumacher said.

Read More:

Children and grief
How do you deal with grief?
Coping with grief during the holiday season

Image: Young woman in Santa Claus hat looking depressed from Shutterstock.

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