As we approach this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, a time traditionally filled with joy and togetherness with friends and family, we are acutely aware of the absence of our parents and oldest son since their passing in the last few years. Our family, like many others who have lost loved ones, will feel the enormous void they leave. And, we understand now more than ever how essential it is to acknowledge the bittersweet reality that many among us are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Therefore, during this wonderful season of love and thanksgiving, more than ever, it becomes crucial to be willing to listen, to extend a compassionate hand, and to recognize the profound gift it is to come alongside those who are mourning and share in their grief.
By inviting grieving individuals to talk about their deceased loved ones, share significant memories, and openly express their pain, we embrace the Six Steps of Living-Connected with hurting people, transforming the act of grieving into a testament of love and shared suffering.
1. Be Others Focused and Available: Extending a Compassionate Ear
During the holiday season, being others focused takes on a deeper meaning. It involves actively seeking out those who are grieving, and offering a listening ear without judgment or interruption. By turning our full attention towards their stories, we honor not only the departed but also the person sharing their memories, making their grief feel valid and understood.
2. Be Present and Listen: Creating a Safe Space for Expression
One of the greatest gifts we can give during the holiday season is the gift of presence. By being fully present and genuinely listening, we provide a safe space for the grieving to express their emotions openly. In the act of listening, we say “I care about your loss and I’m here for you”. We validate their experiences and offer solace.
3. Be Curious and Interested: Embracing Their Stories
Curiosity and interest are powerful tools in the process of grieving. By asking open-ended questions and expressing genuine curiosity about the deceased loved ones, we encourage the bereaved to share their stories. Through these narratives, we celebrate the lives lived, finding solace in the shared moments and acknowledging the impact the departed had on the world.
Listening to their positive memories does not diminish the pain of loss; instead, it provides a holistic perspective on the relationship. Sharing stories and cherishing the moments spent with the departed loved one allows individuals to honor their memory, focusing on the richness of the connection rather than solely on the void left behind.
4. Be Empathetic and Compassionate: Understanding the Depth of Pain
Empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of supporting those in grief. By putting ourselves in their shoes, we gain a deeper understanding of their pain. Compassion allows us to offer words of comfort and gestures of kindness, fostering a sense of connection and reminding them that they are not alone in their sorrow. It’s healing.
Sharing someone’s grief actually does help bear the loss. It does not necessarily shift the focus away from the loss; rather, it helps individuals acknowledge and process both the depth of their love for the deceased and the impact of the loss. By sharing their grief, individuals can reminisce about the positive aspects of their relationship with their loved ones, celebrating the time they spent together and the meaningful memories they created.
5. Be Encouraging and Hopeful: Embracing the Journey of Healing
Grieving is a journey, and during the holiday season, offering encouragement and hope becomes especially significant. By acknowledging their strength in facing their pain, we inspire hope for the future. Encouragement is a salve to the soul, it is a beacon of light, guiding them through the darkness, reminding them that, in time, healing is possible.
6. Celebrating Love through Listening and Sharing: A Holiday of Healing
Incorporating the Six Steps of Living-Connected with hurting people, we transform the holiday season into a time of healing and connection. By actively engaging in conversations, embracing their stories, and sharing in their pain, we celebrate the love that transcends physical presence. In this shared experience, we find the true spirit of the holidays – a spirit of compassion, understanding, and the enduring power of love.
In conclusion, during this holiday season, let us be mindful of the grieving souls around us. Let us be willing to listen, to share in their pain, and to honor the memories of their departed loved ones. In these acts of love and understanding, we not only provide comfort but also reaffirm the significance of living a connected life, reminding each other that love, in all its forms, is the greatest gift we can give and receive.