Coping and Helping Others Cope with Loss During the Holidays
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The holiday season is often a lonely and depressing time for people who have experienced some kind of loss in their lives. Whether it is job, home, retirement, or worse, such as a death, dealing with loss is hard and exhausting. Is there something you can do to help someone close to you that may be dealing with loss? My daughter lost her husband a year ago and here are some suggestions that she has found helpful.
If a person has lost his or her job they may be embarrassed to talk about it. Some people feel that this kind of loss is their fault and avoiding all conversation about it may seem to help them deal with it. However, they may just need someone to talk to who understands and has been there and wonít judge them. What they want to hear is that they are still competent people who have much to accomplish with their lives. If you, or someone you know, works in their field, offer to make an introduction. If the person is you, discuss their former job with them. Perhaps insight into their experience will lead you to remember someone who need and may employ their skills. You might be able to make a recommendation of what they might do to improve their work skills or further their education that may further their career, as well. Above all, he or she needs to know you realize his or her situation and are willing to help, if you can.
The loss of a home is a particularly heartbreaking event. As human beings, our feelings of security are tied to the roof over our heads. Shelter is one of our basic necessities and the loss of it is very devastating. This is especially true if others, such as children or older parents are directly affected by your loss. You can be very helpful in this situation if you follow a few basic rules. First, see if there is anything you can do to help the family or person feel more secure, such as inviting them to visit with you in your home for a period of time until they can make some arrangements or help with funds to put them up in a hotel. They will need some down time as well as a quiet place to sort out their feelings. Help with finding living arrangements by getting in touch with any agencies that might provide assistance. Ask churches, neighbors, and coworkers to participate in a fund-raising event to help out. Many times these things donít get done because no one steps up to be the first to suggest or coordinate them. Many of these same things are true when an older person or couple lose their retirement. To them, their dreams are gone and life is no longer worth living. They have saved all their life just to be able to retire one day. You might gather your family, especially your young children around them to give them the joy that the laugh of a child can bring. Invite them to worship with your family at your church or go with them to theirs. Reassure them that it is the here and now that is important and that you and your family are going to be close by. Talk with them about their needs and invite your church to help provide for them. Let their church know that this is a great time to step up and serve if they havenít realized the need.
Death is the ultimate loss. Memories can be treasures but they can also hurt deeply. This year my daughter, after losing her husband and best friend, decided not to allow herself to face the holidays alone. She planned a trip to her brotherís house who is married to a wonderful wife who is expecting and who have four other children. They welcomed her with open arms. Just allowing her to share their holiday and their home for a few days made all the difference in the world. She spent her time lending a helping hand where one was definitely needed and in the process, received lots of hugs and kisses. They laughed a lot and cooked for each other. She hung out with them on whatever errands they had to run. She helped with the children; including taking and picking them up from school and riding with her brother while he took two of the girls to the airport. They were able to talk on the long ride home and she treasured their time together. She announced to me sometime later, ďMama, I didnít grieve this Thanksgiving.Ē
Sooner or later we will all face some kind of loss in our lives. You can help others by letting them know you are there to lend a helping hand and an understanding heart.
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