The holidays are a time for family, friends, God, traditions, religion and family history. For the many who are grieving it is also a time to experience the pain and loneliness of missing someone. The entire world is outwardly celebrating while inwardly many hearts are aching.
When someone close to us dies, there is a hole left in our lives and hearts. There is no more powerful time of year to highlight the pain and isolation that is grief.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve and as long as an individual is not hurting themselves or others then they are not doing it wrong. Societal and family traditions can feel like a constant pressure to the bereaved to grieve differently, to grieve silently; to do what is best for everyone else not for themselves.
As a funeral professional, you are in a unique position to offer support and help to the bereaved during the holidays without adding to the pressure already surrounding them. You have played the role of guide and advisor and even though the funeral is over you can continue to be a part of their healing journey. The following are ways you can reach out to all the bereaved in your community, offering information, support and hope.
1. Sponsor or hold a candle light service – Partner with local hospices, grief support groups, and religious organizations to host a community, memorial candle lighting.
2. Send a card to your families letting them know that you care and are thinking of them in this difficult season.
3. Provide information through community events that encourage families to honor their loved ones. This can include:
They may want to continue, change or do away with traditions.
Encourage the families to include their loved ones in traditions going forward by using a special remembrance candle or adding a personalized photo ornament to their tree. They may also hang a stocking for their loved one with a journal in it where the family can write thoughts, memories and tributes. Or they can place a basket on the table with a pad and pen where people can write a good memory of their loved one.
Encourage an escape plan- When accepting an invitation or attending any event always have a way to politely leave. It can be hard to anticipate how it will feel to be at a holiday event. It is easy to feel trapped and cause unneeded anxiety. Making sure there is a way to leave will avoid that feeling.
It is okay to say no to an invitation. Encourage honest communication with family and friends.
Encourage people to look for ways to honor their loved one by donating time to an organization in memory and honor of their loved one. Or they can donate a present to an organization that helps others in memory and honor of their loved one. (The funeral home can be instrumental in collecting gifts for other organizations.)
Run your own support group – There are many complete programs that can offer tools to begin a group.
Partner with local support organizations to help them help others.
Assemble and provide for use by the public a grief support library. Include videos, books and Internet resources.
Bring in and sponsor a speaker on grief and loss.
Supporting families during the holiday season does not need to put a strain on your marketing or outreach budget. Many of the suggestions are low cost and will continue to keep your name in the minds of community members who will once again need your services.
In the United States at any given time 90% of the population is grieving. This means that you may also be missing someone that you love this holiday season. It is important to identify this honestly to be able to effectively reach out to others. May you, your families and your community find peace and hope in this Holiday Season. FBA
Glen Lord is the President of The Grief Toolbox, Inc. He has extensive expertise in marketing and Grief services. Including over 20 years of sales and marketing experience with both fortune 500 as well as multiple start up and small business, In addition he is on the board of directors of The Compassionate Friends and has produced multiple self help grief programs. He can be contacted at 603-791-0999, or by email at [email protected] You may also visit www.thegrieftoolbox.com and www.walkingthroughgrief.com.