10 Things You Can Do to help make this holiday season more bearable for someone you know who is learning to live with the death of someone they love

1. Say their name. Please mention the person who died by name. Your family member/friend is already sad. Nothing you can do will make them more sad ... unless they think you have completely forgotten the person they love who has died.  Say Their Name.  Say their name over and over again.  Share a memory.  Tell a story.  Like you, we never tire of hearing the names of those we love.

2. Extend an invitation. And another. And then another. Sooner or later the person will say yes ~ when they are ready and able. Don’t abandon them. They may already feel abandoned and alone. Don't give up.  The day will come when they are able to accept your invitation.

3. Be flexible and patient.  Realize that your friend/family member may not really know what they want to do for the holidays. Or what they want to do may change hour to hour. Please be flexible and patient. Accompany your friend as best you can. Let them take the lead. Don’t force them to do anything. Don’t make them feel guilty.  Living with the death of someone you love is hard, hard work.

4. Offer to drive your family member/friend to Holiday Church services.  It's often easier to go places when you're not going alone; when you're accompanied by a friend or family member.  Again, be flexible and patient. He/she may change their mind again and again.

5. Write a personal note.  When you send a holiday card, write a note. Mention the person who passed by name. Share a favorite memory or story.  We love knowing that you have not forgotten our beloved.

6. Search through your photos and videotape. Find a picture or video of the person who died and mail it - or better yet deliver it in person. A new photo or video is always welcome.  Oftentimes, you hold pieces to the puzzle of who our beloved was when he/she was alive.  It feels good to collect as many of those pieces as possible.

7. Remember that you don’t know how the person feels. But you can ask ~ “What is it like to be you today?” And then make sure you set aside time to LISTEN.  It feels good to be seen, heard and honored exactly as we are today.

8. Crying helps people heal.  Expect crying. It’s normal, natural, healthy and healing. T's okay for you to cry, too.  It helps us know that you understand what has happened.  

9. Don’t work too hard to try and cheer your friend up.  Do spend time with him/her.  Let them talk. You listen! There is a shortage of people willing to listen. 

10. Holiday treats matter.  Don’t forget to bring over a home-cooked meal and holiday cookies. Love comes in many forms.

11. Give your friend/family member the perfect gift.  Give them a copy of my book Permission to Mourn: A New Way to Do Grief.  You can purchase a copy by clicking: Tom's book.

Additional resources ~

10 Tips to help yourself

A Simple Candle Lighting Ceremony

If my NEW WAY of doing grief resonates with you, I'd love to work with you one-on-one. If you are in the Rockford, Illinois area we can do that in person, otherwise, I am having great success working with people all over the country via Skype or FaceTime. Email me at tomzuba@aol.com if you would like to take the next step on your grief journey and we can schedule a session.






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  • I lost my daughter October 29th, 2018. She was my 1st born, my only daughter. She was 24 years old and had so much to offer this world. It’s always been the 4 of us, my husband, her, and my son. She completed this family.

    Martha Hale
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  • This is my first Christmas without my Mom or my Dad. I also lost my dear friend and neighbor of 25plus years. It has been a year of sadness. My son is dealing with addiction and my daughter is lost beyond all sadness at the loss of her grandmother who she was very close to. I will forward this to her and my son who has also lost many people as he is in the military. Thank-you for thinking of us at this time of the year.

    Laurel Odenbaugh
  • My son took his own life, last Dec. 7.He was the light of our lives. Always a great kid, who was so loved by everyone who knew him. Unfortunately, he suffered from deep depression, and anxiety. Last Christmas is a fog. I don’t remember much about it. It was the worst time of my life. To top it off, his birthday is Dec.22. I am dreading tomorrow, and have no idea what to do, to somehow celebrate his life, rather than sobbing all day. No one in my family wants to be reminded of his death, at this time of year. They have their own children and grandchildren. I too, feel alone in my grief. Even my husband seems to go on with his life, as if it never happened. I hate to say it, but it kind of makes me angry, that no one wants to talk about Phil.


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