Sometimes the “holly, jolly” feelings are difficult during Advent. We have all had to celebrate a first Christmas without a loved one. 2014 might be that kind of Advent for you and your family, as it is for my family, where we will celebrate the first Christmas without my Nana. My Nana contributed so much during Christmas, from her baking and cooking to her incredible love for Christmas music.
Right before Thanksgiving, one of my colleagues from work who lives far away, wrote a short email saying that she was thinking about me and my family this Thanksgiving. It meant the world to me that she was praying for me and got me thinking, how can I help others this Advent who are grieving?
1. Reach Out
Just like that email meant a great deal to me, what can you do to reach out? Write their Christmas card to your grieving friend and send it early, pick up the phone to reach out, make a date to go do something, or send that short email to say you are praying for them. It will mean the world!
I recently watched an 8 minute TED video on 5 Ways to Listen Better. Julian Treasure gives a few tips and how important is for us to When someone is grieving, our intention to reach out and listen to their tears, fears and feelings of loss will connect us to our friends on a deeper level. It will keep us spiritually connected.
3. Give a Gift of Remembrance
I recently bought a Christmas ornament with a slot for a picture that I will place my Nana into. We have all seen these ornaments for a “baby’s first Christmas” or the year to put a picture of our children to capture a moment of Christmas time. My parents have one of me when I did not have my front teeth for Christmas. Other ways to help our friends memorialize their loved one can include asking them to share their favorite Christmas moment, song, prayer, or holiday activity of that loved one.
4. Out of the Ordinary
Help your friend make a new memory this Advent, but doing something non-traditional or different. Take them to tea, a Christmas Market, brunch, walk around to see the Christmas windows, or go look at the tacky Christmas lights in your community. It may be the time to start some new traditions this year, but your friend may need some help doing so.
5. Offer Prayer
If possible, offer to pray with your friend in person, on the phone or via FaceTime or Skype. As we have been taught, everything is possible through prayer. Philippians 4:6, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” KJV
Here are two resources to help:
How to be Healers? Dr. Michael Brown, Marble Collegiate Church
Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season from AARP