I thought of doing this post for a very long time and the holidays typically cause a lot of grief to rise back up and be raw again, so it seems like good timing. If you are new here, I lost my mom unexpectedly 5 years ago and I lost my father about 7 months ago. This is my first year without my Dad and my first year as an “orphan”. I also experienced other losses during those 5 years that I have not shared, thus resulting in PTSD and major depression.
Personally, holidays are very difficult for me and like clockwork, I cry a lot once Halloween ends until after the New Year. Holidays and memories and decorations are everywhere and it can be a crushing reminder that your loved ones are no longer here. Two months is a long time to be sad, but I am hoping that as time passes it will not be as difficult, however, I am in the first year of losing my father and thus my first year parentless so it is hitting very hard again.
I know many people do not know what to say, I do not think as a whole we (society) handle our responses to grief well, it can be awkward and a helpless feeling. But, silence is hurtful and lonely. Also grief is very different from person to person- no wonder we do not know what to do! I do not like to talk about it, but love when you get me out of the house or come over and keep me company (truly, I get very lonely). Others want to talk about it and are just waiting for you to ask and never want to leave house!
I am young to lose both of my parents and experience the secondary loss of no grandparents, due to my age, my friends just cannot relate and it can be a very lonely feeling. However, there are things you/anyone can do:
Send a card- Any card, a card that makes them laugh, an I’m thinking of you, a postcard with a compliment or an I miss you or a this effing sucks card… It lets us know our grief and pain are not forgotten and anyone can do it without the pressure of knowing what to say.
One of the sweetest gifts I received after my Mom died was 6 months after she died- a card and a small gift saying- “I know after time has passed, people forget about your grief, but you still need the support” It was the most thoughtful remembrance and 6 months in I was still in crisis mode.
Send a text- honestly a card is better, lol. It is such a happy surprise in mail, but an im thinking of you, lets grab coffee texts are so very nice.
Invite us places or come over and spend time with us- we may say no, but the invites are thoughtful and we do not feel like a sad pariah that no one wants to be around. Also, I encourage people who are grieving to say yes sometimes- even when you do not feel like it- being around supportive friends CAN be helpful, getting dressed in a great outfit, etc… I have been treating myself to more drybar hair appointments, fake tans, facials lately- because it just makes me feel better when I am more put together, I do not consider this selfish or vain, I just consider it survival. From my experience, I usually do not regret going out, it gets me out of my head for a bit.
Ask how we are REALLY doing- I fake it a ton. Someone asked me this the other day and I unexpectedly burst into tears and started crying. It came out of nowhere. To be honest, I was embarrassed about it for days because it was SO unexpected, I knew I was not doing well, but did not realize how bad it was. The poor individual was a bit shocked (I seem fine most days) but gave me lot of love, I realized later it was cathartic to get some of it out.
Drop off meal, send a doordash, sushi (or is that just me? lol) etc… Grief does not end after the first few weeks when everyone is giving you support. Many (including myself) have a lot of difficulty around the holidays- a night without worrying about dinner is always a blessing.
Do NOT forget- TRUST ME- we have not forgotten the loss and ignoring it exists just makes the feeling of loneliness and isolation worse. It can feel like everyone forgot the loss- when others mention it I feel shocked they remember it- it makes me feel very loved.
This list isn’t much or difficult to do- we can support, love and not tip toe around their loss and give them the love they need and deserve.
Here are some cute cards I found-