Losing a loved one any time of year is devastating, but the holidays can be especially tough as the days become shorter and colder and everyone around the bereaved celebrates and counts their blessings.
And while nothing can make the pain go away, family and friends showing they care can lighten the burden a little.
Paula Parks Wicker, a third-generation family member in the business, offers these tips for comforting a friend or family member who is grieving.
1. Just be there for them. Simply listening and letting the bereaved know you care is the single most important thing anyone can do for them. It’s even okay to tell them you don’t know what to say, but you want them to know you’re there for them can offer tremendous solace to someone who feels untethered.
2. Don’t diminish their loss. Saying things like “God needed another angel,” or “He’s better off where he is now,” or “At least you had all those years with her,” do not soften the blow; they belittle legitimate feelings of grief. Instead, recognize their loss as real and valid.
3. Offer yourself. Ask if you can do something specific for them, like take care of some logistics, clean their house or handle some holiday chores. The stress of holiday obligations on top of losing a loved one can be overwhelming, so assistance might be gratefully accepted.
4. Include the loved one in the holidays. Demonstrating that you acknowledge the loved one while maintaining holiday traditions is a great way to show that they are not forgotten. Ideas include creating an ornament with their name on it, lighting a candle in their memory, or recounting holiday stories that include them.
5. Ask what they need. There’s nothing wrong with telling the bereaved that you care enough to help them, but you don’t know what that might entail. “Asking a grieving friend what would be most helpful to them is much better than causing more harm than good with the best of intentions,” says Paula Wicker.
6. Manage well-meaning family and friends. Every family has that one person who seems to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Diverting them from your grieving friend or family member as much as possible can be exceptionally beneficial. Intercept them when they arrive and engage them in conversation, assign them helpful tasks and arrange for interactions with the bereaved that are time-limited by design.
7. Help them find things to do – if that’s what they want. Many people don’t want to grieve alone, preferring instead to keep their minds busy doing other things, even helping others. Offer opportunities for that fill that need.
8. Donate to charity in the name of the deceased, especially if it’s a charity that is close to the heart of either the deceased or their family.
Since 1940, Parks Funeral Home has been proudly serving Lowcountry families. Their family-owned business is able to provide the comfort and experience needed to help loved ones get through a difficult time.