When holidays come, society’s messages are that of being jolly, joyful, and of having fun. It is, of course, good to joyful, and our joy comes from the Lord. However, holidays can be sad times for those who have lost loved ones, for those who suffer, and for those feel lonely and without support. Here are ways to be more mindful of those who are in pain but still have to “make it through the holidays”.
Be a good listener
When a person feels depressed and overly self-aware, it is difficult to be around a bunch of happy and light-hearted people in a crowd or at a party when you yourself feel sad. A good way to be more mindful is to offer a good listening ear to someone who has had a rough year or could use a friend. This is probably one of the best ways to offer care and support to someone who needs it.
Offer to do something together one-on-one
Lonely and isolated people may not feel comfortable at big parties or crowds, but they may enjoy your company one-on one. Offer to visit, talk on the phone, or to be a friend in some way in a small group setting. It is best to avoid the invitation to the suffering person where he or she may be forced to be around large groups of people and may not feel up to it. Of course, there are always exceptions. Some may actually enjoy the large family gathering or event. However, the one-to-one get together will most likely be a big hit when you invite them.
Don’t be afraid to see tears shed
Watching other people cry and be sad is difficult for most. As a society, we tend to do all that we can to avoid sadness to a point that it is almost uncomfortable. Tears and sadness have a place in our lives. They are the price we pay sometimes for love. When we truly love another and we lose that person, there is sadness, and it is a natural feeling. Allow your friend to cry and “let it out” as needed. Try to avoid the words “don’t be sad”. Many times, these are the last words someone wants to hear when they need to grieve over a loss.
The most important task of all is simply to be there for those who suffer. Jesus modeled this very well throughout his life, and he calls us to do the same. Listen, care, and don’t walk away. The worst thing one can do is to not stand by a good friend, relative, or other person who is deeply suffering for whatever reason. Pray for your friend and let them know that not only does God love them, but so do YOU.
These pointers may help you and those you care about to find rest and security in your love and friendship. Remember, aside from loving God first and loving others, the greatest command of Jesus to his followers is to love and care for the marginalized. Holidays are not just about cookies, presents, trees, and fun. The celebration of our faith is about love, sacrifice, care, and real joy based in the love of God. Be blessed.