8 Tips to Help Someone Grieving at the Holidays

Author: TAPS

Good Grief Camp Girl by Christmas Tree

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) cares for all those grieving the death of a military loved one, but our tips for coping may also help you reach out to all who are struggling this holiday season:

1. Realize those who are grieving may struggle to make plans.

Holiday anticipation may be more difficult than the holiday itself. Make sure friends and family who are grieving know you are available for them and then let them take charge of holiday plans and map out how you will spend time together. This can help relieve anxiety.

2. Be patient.

Memories of times when loved ones were with us may bring waves of grief. Friends and family can support those grieving by being patient and understanding, sharing memories of loved ones in meaningful ways, and supporting those grieving by allowing emotions to be shared.

3. Holiday parties may be difficult.

Try to spend time with those who are grieving and offer them a sense of nurturing normalcy. But remember they may feel anxiety and need to take breaks from the festivities. Offer them a no-questions-asked exit plan and mean it.

4. Connect surviving military families and friends with TAPS care.

The greatest gift you can give someone who is grieving is the support of a peer group who are grieving and have suffered a similar loss. Families who have lost a loved one serving in the military may find comfort by connecting with other survivors through the TAPS online community, peer support groups, or care groups. If you know someone grieving the loss of a loved one in the military, share our National Military Survivor Helpline number (800-959-TAPS) with them. We answer the phone lines 24/7/365.

5. Honor their loved one.

Light a candle, include their loved one in a toast and ask them to share memories. The holidays are also a great time to cook a favorite recipe with them or even volunteer together in honor of their loved one.

6. Encourage spiritual comfort.

Many who are grieving find special comfort in their church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community. If this is something you share with someone who is grieving, attend a service with them or let them know you offered a special prayer of peace for them.

7. Care about health.

Check in on grieving friends or family and make sure they are getting plenty of rest, eating regularly and drinking plenty of water. Don't offer quick fixes like sweets or alcohol as they will only make us feel worse in the long run.

8. Offer to  help.

Don't wait for friends to ask you for help. There are so many things to be done at the holidays, offer help with holiday traditions such as shopping, baking or decorating. Whether accepted or not, the kindness will be appreciated.