Include those suffering grief

Published 5:08 pm Saturday, December 20, 2014

QUESTION: How can we be helpful to people who are grieving when others are celebrating?

ANSWER: Most people who are experiencing grief when the general atmosphere is happiness, like at holiday time, usually do not want to be in the spotlight with their sorrow, but often do not want to be alone either.

Invite people in grief to join the gathering and give them the choice whether to come and, if they do, let them decide how long to stay. Expect tears and have Kleenex close at hand. Nothing much needs to be said, really, when there are tears; a gentle touch and a re-direction of the focus of others will be appreciated.

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When you know the grief is over the loss of someone you knew, there are three things that people definitely find comforting to hear or to read:

1) “I am remembering …… (name the person and describe your memory of him or her)”

2) “When I think of (describe a time with the person) it makes me smile.”

3) “It was so important to me when (describe the circumstance.)”

Friends and family often incorporate the memory of a loved one into celebration gatherings in special ways. A special candle may be lit, photos of the person with others at the gathering may be in the room, special stories about the person’s life may be re-told or special traditions, like releasing a kite, may be done.

Sometimes a person’s grief is caused from a hurtful experience and there simply is no way to have kind words about the circumstances. The most comforting thing you can say is “You are important to me; you are important to us.”

If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about family challenges, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out Life is Goodbye, Life is Hello (Alla Bozarth) at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street S.E., Austin).and www.