December 6, 2017

christmas cheer and support

I’m here today to wish you all  
Happy Holidays and generally I always want to
put a positive spin on things.

We all have so much going on in our lives,

both good and bad...

And this blog has always been my outlet for sharing
things I love, things that make me happy,
things that make my life easier, and
pretty things that put 
a smile on my face.

Yes, but what if the holidays are a time when 
you're not feeling so happy?

The holidays are a very difficult time for so many.

A good friend of mine just lost her husband to cancer on Monday.

Sometimes we don’t know how to act or react to someone in this situation, so I thought I‘d look into it a little bit and come up with some helpful tips on how to be there for someone you care for who’s life has dramatically changed in an instant, and who’s too overwhelmed to deal with the holidays. I found some great advice on Baylor University’s website. Here are some of my favorite pointers:

1.  Listen more than talk. “It is OK to say, ‘I don’t know what to say but I want you to know that I care,’” Harris said. “It is a better choice than saying nothing, or saying things that judge and marginalize.”

2.  Acknowledge the loss and express your caring. “Be available; be present to say a word about the special life that is gone. Ask if there is a holiday-related task you can help with. Will they be alone for the holidays? Invite them over or take a meal to their home if they are not ready to get out and be around others. Offer to help with Christmas shopping or wrapping.”

3.  Find a way to include the lost loved one in the holidays. “I recommend families find a way to include the lost loved one in the holidays: to light a candle on the mantel to burn through the day as a symbol of his continued presence, to make an ornament with her name and place it on the tree, to talk about their roles and be intentional about who will assume those roles now of carving the turkey, etc., to use at least one of their favorite recipes for a holiday dish.”

4.  Take time to tell stories and look through old photos. But don’t push it. “If folks find it too painful, there should be no pressure to do it,” Harris said. “There will be other holidays, other times and other gatherings.”

5.  Ask what helps and be open to what doesn’t. “I ask the bereaved person to tell me what the experience is like for them and I ask what helps or doesn’t help them.”

6. Avoid “helpful” actions that are actually hurtful. “When you stay away, pretend it didn’t happen or walk the other way in a store so you don’t have to say anything – those things hurt,” Harris said.

7.  Understand that there’s no set time frame for someone who suffers a loss to be “over it” or “move on.” Harris said adjustment to loss is a long process and tends to get worse before it gets better. Those not closely connected to the loss will move on with their busy lives while the person who has lost a spouse or child or parent will experience fresh loss over and over again for the first year while facing the first birthday, anniversary, Christmas, vacation, etc. without the person with whom they had always shared those moments.

A few of us spent the morning decorating our friend’s Christmas tree today and we also sat through a few tears, lots of happy memories and helped her with a some daunting tasks that needed to get done.

The important thing is not to get overwhelmed by the holidays. Bring a little holiday cheer where it’s really needed and maybe has been overlooked. I want to remember to be sensitive to others especially during this time of year.

Sometimes a kind word or action is worth a lot more than an expensive gift that’s all wrapped up in a pretty package.  

ciao! fabiana

Advice by Helen Harris, 
assistant Professor at Baylor University.

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