This week we will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the murder of 27 innocent people and the suicide of one mentally ill young adult in Newtown, CT. Since the
Nothing will bring back a loved one. We entertain grief as one of our guests for the holiday.
tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December 14, another 15,000 people have been murdered in the US. Every one of those deaths – including Adam Lanza’s – represents a family that is now facing the holiday season with a heart burdened by the senseless absence of a loved one. They bear a particular sorrow of knowing the death was as the result of a criminal and violent act.
‘Tis the season for eggnog and grief. Christmastime is here and it can be a grueling and gut-wrenching reminder of the relationship that has ended for someone who has lost a loved one through death or divorce or discord.
Christmas can be especially difficult when someone is missing. Brad W. Smith, photographer
We can’t bring back the dead, restore a marriage or repair a relationship, but we can be a good friend to a friend who is struggling in this joyous holiday.
As a friend, it helps to first of all remember there is no time limit on mourning.
When someone dies, we often hear ourselves promising to visit or call a person in mourning in the days or weeks following the death and funeral. Sometimes our own promise fosters in us feelings of panic. What do we say? What do we do?
We can give immense comfort simply through our compassionate presence and our unconditional listening.
Relax. I’ll tell you a secret. There is an art to bringing comfort to those who are in mourning. That art lies in our ability to listen attentively and compassionately to what they want to say. In other words, when in doubt about what to say, switch from talking to listening. Chances are good that a person who lost a loved one recently needs the gift of unconditional listening more than anything else. Continue reading