By Karen Smith
Most of us who make New Year’s resolutions aim at making ourselves better in one way or another. Rather than an expensive gym membership here’s a way to improve yourself from the inside and show support from someone who may be hurting. Although there is never a good time to lose someone, death during the holidays – when others are celebrating – can be especially difficult. Those happy holiday times will quite simply, never be the same. So, as this New Year starts and we are all thinking of our New Year resolutions, consider reaching out to those who start each year remembering the loss of a loved one.
January can be an especially lonely time of year, after the rush of holiday parties has passed and the long dark days just keep going. It is a really LONG month – somehow those 31 days seem double the ones in July. Even though you may be looking forward to staying in and relaxing after the holiday craziness, take a moment to share some quiet time with someone who may be hurting. Reach out to friends and family who have lost loved ones during the holiday time of year and ask them to lunch or dinner. Be brave. Ask them how they are coping with remembering the loss. If you feel uncertain about saying the right thing, you’re not alone. A review of advice on websites like Focus on the Family, might be just the thing to boost your courage and confidence.
Often there is great distraction during the holiday season, but after New Year’s the pain really sets in and all those who visited seem to disappear. There really isn’t a way to prevent that hurt from resurfacing, but allowing someone to honestly express their feelings and just listening, not shutting them down, is a truly loving gift.
I’m not suggesting that you make it your mission to see everyone who has lost a loved one around the holidays but, make a list of a few folks who you know might need a visit, a lunch, dinner or coffee. Let them know that you remember that the holidays might be tough for them and that they are still important enough for you to make a special time to listen.
Karen Smith, LMSW, Ph.D. is a clinical ethicist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and vice president of the FCA board of trustees