The holiday season is laced with minefields for grieving people, especially if they are facing the first holiday season without a loved one. Homes get decorated with sentimental ornaments, candles, and trimmings. Songs carry unbidden emotions. There are countless gatherings of friends and family where the empty chair is all too evident. And because expectations for joy and cheer are so high, these mourners often feel lost, alone, and sad. Your employees, clients, and associates will never forget it if you reach out compassionately during this time, letting them know you understand how hard it is.
Remember not to write cards and notes wishing a “Happy” or “Merry” holiday. Instead, choose texts that wish peace or hope. Then include a hand-written message acknowledging their reality. Here is one possibility: “Wishing you Happy Holidays at a time like this seems hollow. Instead, I wish you peace. I wish you healing. I wish you hope.”
Or: “During this holiday time, I wish you moments of lightness in the midst of the pain. I wish you companionship of beloved people in the midst of the loneliness. I wish you healing as you learn to survive these days. Most of all, I wish you peace.”
Or: “You may find that few people understand what you experience during this holiday season. Try to be patient with yourself and others, as you find your way through the ups and downs it will surely bring. In the meantime, do what seems right to you and take care of yourself. Concentrate on what is most important, and know that I am here for you.”
You may also wish to give or recommend these helpful books:
Alan Wolfelt. “Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season.” Rather than a narrative, it is a list of strategies and tips. Although not every suggestion will make sense for everyone, the list is comprehensive enough that surely some of these practical suggestions will hit home for each of your recipients.
Harold Ivan Smith. “A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others are Celebrating”. Harold has authored many insightful and practical resources for those who mourn, and this one is no exception. The book sensitively examines the reality of the season for grieving people, and provides comfort and encouragement in its midst.
You may wish to give one or both books to your grieving employees, clients, or associates. Both are small and easy to navigate, and both cost less than $15. With the different formats, the recipients and everyone in their families will be able to find understanding, consolation, and practical help in these pages.
This is a good time to remember, too, that your own holidays don’t have to be unequivocally happy. Allow whatever sadness may come along with whatever joy your heart can hold. Find moments of peace. Give love freely. Care for yourself and be there for those you care about. These are the things that will make it a holiday to remember.