Helping your loved ones through tough times

For many, the upcoming holiday season will be a joyous occasion filled with family and friends, laughter and cheer. But for those going through a rough time—divorce, financial stress, illness, or the recent death of a loved one—the holidays can be a painful reminder that life isn’t always as wonderful as we’d like it to be. You can make your loved one’s spirits a little brighter by keeping the following advice in mind:

1) Be willing to lend a hand—or a shoulder to cry on.

Your loved ones may need some extra help right now, whether that be making funeral arrangements, clearing out belongings for a post-divorce move, or shuttling the kids to and from school and activities. Offer to help in any way you can, or come up with practical strategies for reducing responsibility and stress in their lives. Even more importantly, be willing to lend a listening ear. Your loved ones need time to vent and work through their feelings in a supportive setting.

2) Plan something special to help ease the burden.

Talking about the problem is a crucial part of the healing process, but it’s important not to let your loved ones’ minds be consumed by it. Try to plan some special activities with your loved ones that will help them see that it’s okay to move on. Invite them over for dinner, have them tagalong on a family outing, or plan a fun night out. Even sending a funny text or sharing an interesting link with them online will let them know that they’re in your thoughts.

3) Let them have their space.

While it’s important to show that you care, constantly asking your loved ones how they feel can become more burdensome than helpful. Everyone processes conflict and grief in a different way. If they’re just not up for talking or spending the day together, don’t push. Let them know that you’re there for them whenever they need you—and then let them have their space.

4) Know when outside help is needed.

Watching loved ones go through hard times can be distressing—especially if the road to recovery is taking longer than you expected. Spare your loved ones the emotional and financial turmoil of a drawn-out legal battle by helping them find an experienced solicitor that will get them a quick divorce. Suggest meditation and mind relaxation practices that will help reduce stress in their daily lives. If your loved one is having a particularly hard time with the grieving process, gently suggest that they seek out a licensed therapist to help them cope and make peace with their loss. Most of all, be patient: with a little time and support, your loved ones will start to find happiness once again.