[Editor: this is a re-post of a column about holidays and grieving. This week we will re-publish several. Stay tuned]
My co-Founder Lisa suggested this.
So nobody you know took my advice and called to include you in their holiday plans. Sorry that didn’t work out. And you were too reluctant to reach out to them and ask to be included. Most of us feel this way. It’s hard to impose yourself on others without them at least giving the appearance of inviting it.
There are several things we can take away from this. First, remember the biblical saying “forgive them for they know not what they do.” A line extension of this is that when it comes to death and grieving, they can also be said to know not what the DON’T do. Often, people not experienced with mourning and mourners, need to be guided. You need to tell them they need not walk on eggshells around you, that if they feel like telling a joke, you be happy to join in their laughter, that although there is a void inside you due to the loss of someone you loved deeply, life needs to fill that void like any other deep wound. Don’t assume they know what to say, and appear to gratefully accept any small verbal offering they might make.
When I was about 26 and inexperienced in untimely death, a co-worker lost his 18 year-old son in a motorcycle accident. When I came upon him I said “L__, I honestly don’t know what to say.” He thanked me and said that he appreciated my sincerity far more thatn the platitudes like ‘he’s in a better place’ that he’d been hearing for days. For the last 40 years I’ve said two things to the newly grieving. First I tell them I don’t know what to say, and second I ask them how I can be of help to them.
The second takeaway is that you who are grieving during holidays need to reach out when the pain is great and let all those people who said they would be there for you that now is the time. Asking for help when you are in need is a gift to the person who can now do a truly good deed by helping you. They will feel uplifted by the experience and from that point forward your relationship will be forever enhanced.
Finally, getting back to Lisa”s idea. It’s AfterTalk 101. Use this online grief support site to write privately to your loved one and share with them your holiday loneliness or recollections of joyous holidays past that you shared when they were alive. That’s why we created AfterTalk–to help you get though the hardest parts of grieving for someone close. Best wishes for if not a joyous holiday season, at lest for a peaceful one.