How to really love your grieving friend this Christmas

I feel like I don’t have authority to advise on much, but grief?

I know grief.

I know grief on a level that I wish I didn’t. I know grief that starts with a diagnosis and ends with a box full of ashes that is a reminder of a life cut short.

Matt’s life was our life. Without him we have struggled to find our footing. When death breaks an unbreakable bond, everything feels hard.

So, here’s how to love your grieving friend this Christmas, right from the trenches that I find myself in-

1. Understand that a grieving friend is struggling to put one foot in front of the other. She may not be able to find the holly jolly in the season. She may cringe at Christmas music. She may want to speed life up so that she doesn’t have to see Christmas without her loved one. Don’t try to force feed the holidays to her, or she may spit them out at you like dry fruitcake.

2. Understand that there will be alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Boxes upon boxes of red wine, because she’s classy like that. Donate to the cause if you want, but do not judge her. Order her an uber, offer her a place to crash for the night, but do not judge her.

3. Understand that the worst feeling to feel at Christmas is alone. If you see her surrounded by people and laughing, know that she’s there because she cannot stand another single night alone in an empty house. Know that, though the laughter is genuine, it took great effort for her to leave home. Value her presence. Because if a grieving friend is seen out in public this holiday season, it’s because she needs people. It’s so much easier to stay home and be sad.

4. Help make holidays fun for kids involved. I am lucky enough to have a solid mom squad that makes sure Quinn doesn’t miss out on any fun holiday stuff when I just cannot. do. it. They make sure she’s never left out. They make sure she’s happy when I can’t ensure her happiness. That’s a priceless gift.

5. Show up. Even when you think she doesn’t want you there, show up. Help her fold clothes, because she’s drowning in a mountain of laundry. Help her clean her house, because the struggle is real and so is the physical exhaustion of just moving through the days.

6. Don’t ask stupid questions. Yes, she’s tired. Yes, she’s sad. Yes, she’s struggling. Yes, she’s overwhelmed. Yes, she’s ok(ish).

7. Feed her. Seriously. Some days I forget to eat. I didn’t eat for a couple of days and I went to a Christmas party last night and lost count of how many tacos I ate. Feed. Her. Ask her if she had water. Water is important. But so are tacos.

8. Love her. Love her when she’s angry. Love her when she’s sad. Love her when she’s not all there. Love her when she’s sleep deprived. Love her when she’s ready to give up. Just love her. Everyday, love her.

9. Understand her need to disappear. I go off the radar to get myself together. I always feel better afterwards. This may mean doing the walk of shame into my own home with my parents here thanksgiving morning and feeling as though I’ve hit a new low, but I could face the day after a whole lot better. If she ghosts you, it’s not you. It’s her. Definitely her.

10. Be kind. Always, always, always, be kind. She’s not asking anyone for anything major. She just needs people, love, support, and kindness. Always kindness.

Your local black widow, over and out

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