Monday, December 7, 2015

12 DOC: Day Seven: laurelbox

*This post is part of our Twelve Days of Christmas series. You can read more here.*

Supporting a Bereaved Friend this Christmas
by Denise and Johanna from laurelbox

Ahhh the holidays.  Our hearts ache for those who have lost children, especially during this season.  If you have a friend who has lost a child, but you haven’t lost a child, you may be wondering how to best support them.  Your desire to truly be there with your
friends in the dark moments is a wonderful thing.  We are also in your shoes, as we have not lost children.  Most importantly, we believe that every hurting woman should be surrounded by a purposeful sisterhood that cares for hurting hearts.  We truly believe that women are better banded together, and we are on a mission to empower women to walk through dark times together.  So with that in mind, and also knowing that everyone grieves differently, here are a few ideas to support a bereaved mother this Christmas.  

1. Know they might not be feeling cheery Christmas vibes
The holidays are hard for them.  They are missing someone and that hole in their life might make them feel like holiday traditions are cruel.  Don’t expect them to come to your yearly Christmas bash.  Small talk at a party might be challenging for them.  Be sure to still extend the invitation to them, however.  Even if they don’t accept, it’s nice to offer.  You could always say, “no pressure if you don’t feel like coming, but we are having a party and we’d love to have you if you feel up to it.”  Nobody likes to feel excluded, and the bereaved parent is the best judge on whether or not they would like to attend.  Don’t take it personal if they choose not to come, even if it is last minute.  Don’t send a generic “Happy Holidays” text message.  Saying Happy or Merry anything might feel so untrue they don’t want to hear it.  Release them from any past traditions that might be 
too hard.

Do acknowledge their pain when you deliver holiday wishes.  Say something like, “I know the holidays are heavy for you this year.  Since I know you are missing (and then say the name of who they are missing), know that I see your pain, I am so sorry, I am here for you, and I love you.”  Those simple words can really validate their feelings.  Do send them a text on Christmas and New Years that mentions their child’s name.  Know your family’s Christmas card might be a trigger for them, so do handwrite a note on your card that acknowledges their loss and expresses your love for them.  

2. Know you don’t have to say much
Just be there for them.  Your words can’t fix their pain.  Don’t offer platitudes or give advice, especially if you’ve never been there.   As much as you can, try and sit in their pain with them.  It might make you feel a little jumpy and insecure.  But just try. Your discomfort in talking about their loss is infinitely less difficult than their reality of living without their loved one.  So just try to embrace any awkwardness, sit in their pain, and give them space to process at their own pace.  

And whatever you do, don’t make their loss about you.  Read this article about the ring theory of grief, and abide by it. 

And also, there will be times they want to do something normal.  So be ok with that too.  If they want to sit in your living room, eat Christmas cookies, and binge on old Friends episodes.  Then guess what, tonight you’re eating cookies and bingeing on old Friends episodes.  Give them freedom to be wherever they need to be in their own time.

3. Do an activity with them to remember their child
Their heart is aching for their child.  And it can be so hard when everyone else is frolicking about, doing child centered Christmas activities.  So stop your own life and bring an activity to their house that is focused on remembering their child.  Use your knowledge of your friend and your own creativity to think of something appropriate.  Everyone is different and enjoys different activities.  Maybe you make ornaments with their child’s name on it.  Maybe you click through a slide show of pictures of their child.  Maybe you cook dinner and drink red wine while you talk about their child.  Whatever it is, tailor it to your friend and their preferences, and center it solely around their child. 
Forget-Me-Not Necklace
4. Make a plan 
It might feel forced and contrived to make a plan of how to support your friend. 
However, we have personally found that without a plan, the chaos of the holidays can suck your time away before you know it.  Your friend’s child is probably at the forefront of their mind, and they might need extra support. Standing firm and secure next to your friend is just as important as any shopping or cooking or decorating.  So make a plan of how you will support them.  Write it on your calendar.  Put it on your whiteboard.  Do whatever it is you do to make your list.  Because your hurting friend should be at the forefront of your mind this season.  

5. Give them endless amounts of grace
Don’t we all need grace?  It’s my favorite thing to think about lately.  So if someone you know is hurting, let them off the hook.  Release your own opinions about things.  Know that someday, you will need that grace in return.  Life is so much more abundant when we give endless grace.
Let Your Friends Shelter You Tea Towel
At laurelbox, our mission is to help women be good friends to each other during dark times.  We know our culture doesn’t do a great job at caring for grieving people, so we work to empower women to know how to be a support system.  We created a few items this year to help you acknowledge a hurting person.  

The Heaven-Side Holiday Ornament has a really tender message, because it recognizes a hurting heart and also offers a beautiful message of hope.  We wrote the poem on the ornament in collaboration with Lexi Behrndt over at Scribbles and Crumbs, and it’s really perfect if you’re missing someone this Christmas.  

We also created our We Love You Holiday Luminary because it is a sweet way to represent the life of someone you are missing this Christmas.  

And lastly, our holiday themed laurelbox, includes the ornament, luminary, a soothing handmade soap and a hand-stamped necklace with the word “love.”

And if you are the one hurting this year, our wish is that your community of friends and
family hold you up when pain makes it hard to hold yourself up.  Our prayer is that a laurelbox gift can help you feel remembered in a time when people can get busy with their own lives and loved ones.  Our hope is that if you are far from your family and
friends this holiday season, the tangible gifts we provide will help you know that they stand with you from across the miles.

~ ~ ~ 

Denise has over 10 years of experience in product sales and brings her amazing eye for vintage design and decor to laurelbox.  Denise and her husband Wes live in Ohio where they are raising two toddlers and two teens.   Denise, good soul that she is, also helps Wes run his business.  They both enjoy all the free time that comes with a family of six and owning two companies.   When Denise isn't putting the perfect touches on laurelbox gifts, she enjoys indulging in guilty pleasures like wearing fancy yoga clothes (even though she is not working out) and sipping wine. 

Johanna previously worked as a museum fundraiser, and brings her love of handmade artistic products to laurelbox.  She lives outside of Denver, Colorado with her husband and two boys on 4 acres.  When she is not creating gifts for laurebox, she is gardening, failing at DIY projects, and hiding from winter.  She has a love-hate relationship with her desire to live a natural lifestyle.  Mostly because of the cloth diapers.  So much is the fault of the cloth diapers.   


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