Twelve Tips to Help a Grieving Loved One during
Twelve Practical Tips for Saying and Doing the Right
The holidays are quickly approaching, and while many people look
forward to yearly traditions, gatherings with family and friends
and the general good feelings associated with the season, some
people dread the holidays.
For those who have lost a loved one during the past year, the
holidays may emphasize their grief, reports the National Hospice
and Palliative Care Organization. Often, friends and family members
of those affected by a loss are unsure how to act or what to say to
support their grieving loved one during the holidays.
Hospices are valuable community resources that often help people
who are struggling with grief and loss. Hospices provide
bereavement support to the families they serve; many offer
specialized programs to help the bereaved cope with the
NHPCO offers twelve practical tips from hospice
- Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle
the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others
may choose to change their rituals. Remember, there is no right way
or wrong way to handle the holidays.
- Offer to help the person with baking and/or
cleaning. Both tasks can be overwhelming when someone is
experiencing acute grief.
- Offer to help him or her decorate for the
- Offer to help with holiday shopping or give
your loved one catalogs or suggest online shopping sites that may
- Help your loved one prepare and mail holiday
- Invite the person to attend a religious service with
you and your family.
- Invite them to your home for the
- Ask the person if he or she is interested in
volunteering with you during the holiday season. Doing
something for someone else, such as helping at soup kitchens or
working with children, may help them feel better about the
- Donate a gift or money in memory of the person's loved
one. Remind the person that his or her special person is
- Never tell someone that he or she should be "over
it." Instead, give the person hope that, eventually, he or
she will enjoy the holidays again.
- If he or she wants to talk about the deceased loved one
or feelings associated with the loss, LISTEN. Active
listening from friends is an important step to helping him or her
heal. Don't worry about being conversational…just listen.
- Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and
the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are
great ways to stay in touch.
In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during
the holidays is to let them know you care. They need to be
remembered, and they need to know their loved ones are remembered,
Local hospice grief counselors emphasize that friends and family
members should never be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing,
because making an effort and showing concern will be
Hospice is a philosophy of care for patients with life-limiting
illnesses. A team of professionals and trained volunteers offer
care and comfort to patients and their families when a cure is no
longer possible. Fully covered by Medicare and most insurance
companies, hospice services are available at home or in a facility
such as a nursing home.
More information about grief and loss is available from NHPCO's Caring Connections
or by calling the HelpLine at 1-800-658-8898..