The holidays are approaching, We often overlook the reality that this time of the year isn’t joyful for everyone. This season may be the first time someone is celebrating without a family member, without a marriage, or without a job. We often associate loss with the death of a person, but any event that destroys someone’s understanding of the meaning of life is felt to them as loss.
Moving toward the holidays while carrying the weight of loss can prompt feelings of depression, despair, or numb emotions — the opposite of what society expects of us.
It’s possible that a member in your small group will be feeling this way about the upcoming season.
So what can you do if the holidays aren’t a joyful time for all of your group members? How can you care for those who are hurting?
Acknowledge the truth
Don't avoid the fact that not everyone is looking forward to the holidays. Calling their grief by name gives them freedom to be authentic, even if it doesn’t match the decorations and music of the season. Keep their loss in mind as you plan gatherings, socials, and parties. If anyone in your group is carrying the weight of loss, make an effort to approach them separately. Feel free to give them an out for any events that may evoke sadness.
Give you group member permission to grieve
It's possible to silence others’ feelings of grief and loss because you aren’t sure what to do or say. Allowing the other person to be true to their feelings. By doing so, you love them exactly as they are, instead of expecting them to feel the way everyone else feels. Pursuing someone suffering loss may mean texting them individually, letting them know you’re praying for them, sending them a hand written note, or bringing them a home cooked meal.
Ask for help if you need it
If a group member's needs ever exceed the group's ability to provide care, the church can provide added support. Restore is a one-on-one mentoring opportunity. The group member can be paired with a trained volunteer who has also experienced loss. This ministry is best about 3 months after a loss has occurred (this may differ depending on the situation).
The church can also help the group member get connected to a counselor. If you feel that either of these options is a good fit, contact your Groups Director or church staff to talk through next steps.