I am aware of many people who are hurting this time of year, and that's been on my heart and mind lately.
Two friends have lost important family members in the past couple of days, and I am so sorry for their losses and grief. Knowing they will have a hole in their hearts and a gap at their tables for the parent or grandparent who is no longer there.
Others are dealing with relationship losses, physical challenges, mental health and addiction issues. It's hard when you know others are suffering. One can feel pretty helpless as well.
So what do you do?
While you can't take away someone's pain, maybe you can lighten the load somehow. Be present. Offer a box of tissues and a shoulder to cry on. If appropriate, crack a well-timed joke. Go for a ride. Or just call. Take dinner over. Or a quilt.
I came upon this article recently, "Why We Need the Softness of Craft During Hard Times," and this quote:
It's during these hard times that we really need the softness of craft. To be wrapped in the embrace of grandmother’s quilt, to feel protected from the elements in a hand knit sweater, to caress a mug thrown by someone else's hand on a potter's wheel. These simple things reconnect us to our humanity and remind us of the goodness and potential of people.I'd like to believe that's true, but in reality I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach. I think you have to be sensitive to someone's cues and wishes. People process things in all manner of ways. When my mom passed away, for the most part I just wanted to walk by myself in the evenings and look at the setting sun in the summer sky. And talk, as if to her.
So maybe you talk about things with your friend directly, but maybe the better thing to do is go bowling, distract. I don't know. I think it all depends on the circumstances. Maybe you take a seat next to her on the couch and watch something on Netflix. Or rip on Donald Trump's hair.
Maybe you just ask what she really needs. And then really listen.