It’s The Most Difficult Time Of The Year

Six practical ideas for supporting a bereaved friend or family member during the holidays

Kellyn Shoecraft

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Illustration credit: author

Chances are that you know someone who has had a very difficult 2019.

Maybe they lost a friend or family member, maybe someone they love is physically here but is suffering from dementia, substance use disorder, or end-stage illness. Maybe they had serious trouble at work, experienced a breakup, or are struggling with infertility.

The holidays are memory markers. They’re a definitive moment that longs for comparison. This is the time of year that we remember holidays past, and that is part of what makes them so painful. Add to that the fact that we get lots of social cues about happiness, family and togetherness — reminders of what we no longer or never had.

Finally, why are there so many gosh-darn holidays in a very short period? Annoyingly, they’re all clustered near the end of the calendar year which is also a natural time of reflection. The holiday season is, in essence, a quadruple whammy.

If you know someone who is struggling this year, there are things you can do for your friends and loved ones to help make this season even slightly more manageable. These are not and don’t have to be grand gestures. They are seemingly small choices that mean a lot.

Here we go…

1. Do Something Unholidayish

Illustration credit: author

Especially when it’s the first holiday after a major loss, it is so helpful to do something new, so that there is no point of comparison.

2. Call and let them steer the conversation

Illustration credit: author

3. Honor Their Person

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Kellyn Shoecraft

Navigating sibling & parent loss and trying to change the way people support each other in grief. Founder at www.hereforyou.co