I felt it was time to write a little about the holiday grief cycle and what a griever feels and what goes through the grievers mind daily or many times a day. I am by no means a therapist, so take these words from a griever who has experienced all these feelings. If ever at any point you feel or you know a friend is feeling extremely depressed or desperate, please reach out to the appropriate channels.
The holidays are hard, there is no way around the Christmas holiday. From November to December, it feels like we constantly have a knife stuck in our heart and the loneliness deepens immensely for what used to be and the life you used to have. The constant celebrations are enough for any griever to "shut down" emotionally and physically; please give the griever space and do not think this is about you if they change their minds a million times on plans they may have had with you. It's hard being a friend standing on the outside of a griever, but what we want you to know is that we need you. Don't avoid our grief, please remind us of our person that we are grieving for and continue to speak love & hope into our souls.
A few things you can do for your grieving friend is just send them a note; every day send a note either via text or a card in the mail. If you send a holiday card, don't tell your friend to have a great Christmas, because it's unlikely they will. They will exist on that day and it's going to be hard, very hard. Leave small reminders that they are loved on their front porch and just text them to look on their porch and that you love them; this doesn't require the griever to have to "show up" for anything and they can do this in the privacy and safety of their own home without any expectations. These are simple things reminding them that you are acknowledging them and you acknowledge their loss.
A griever really wants to you to know that triggers are all around them. It may be a song they hear, it may be a family having a jolly time, it may be a food they eat, or just the small task of trying to grocery shop. We don't know when triggers will happen and they generally knock us down to our knees. Please as a friend of a griever, be patient with us and we hope that time will lessen the triggers and emotions we are feeling. Believe me...WE DO NOT WANT TO FEEL THIS WAY EITHER; it's grief and it's tricky and we have no control over any of our emotions. Everyone experiences grief differently and at different times; love your friend and let them be seen and heard.
Below are just a few texts you can send your friend this holiday season:
- "No need to respond. I just want you to know that I love you and I'm here for you. I am so sad you are going through this and I know this is so very hard"
- "Hey friend! I just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and <insert name of their person that died>. I will honor them and you, by lighting a candle tonight to honor them."
- "Hey <insert name of grieving friend>. I am here for you in any capacity. I want to be there for you. Do you want to talk about how your feeling today? I am here to sit & listen with you."
- "I have no idea what to say or do. I know it's so hard right now and I want you to know you are on my mind, heart, & soul."
These are by no means a "fix" for your friend, but these will acknowledge the depth of their grief and they will know that you love and care for them. Please have patience with your grieving friend and know that they will come around again at some point. They will be different, but they will still need your love and presence daily.
I hope this was helpful for you as a friend and maybe even as a griever you can recognize some of these feelings. These things that I've written, I have felt and gone through. Many of these things you may have heard before, because grieving isn't new and we all know someone that is going through a very hard time this holiday season. I always want to say, put yourself in the grievers shoes for just a moment; imagine your life without a person that you love to the ends of the earth. It's a hard role play, but this is what your grieving friend is going through; maybe their spouse died this year or they lost their child. How would you cope? It's impossible to know exactly, but this is why you need to give your friend the grace & compassion they need and acknowledge their loss and do not turn away from it.
I am sending so many blessings to you all and I appreciate you being in my community of HOPE. I love sharing, I love giving hope, and I truly love all of you. Go out into this world and give GRACE and feel the PEACE surround you.