8 Helpful Ways to Support Grieving Loved Ones

Published December 18, 2017

Resilience is our ability to overcome hardship. It is a muscle and we build it. Don’t ask me how much you have; ask me how you can build it.

—Sheryl Sandberg

Just in time for the holidays, Sheryl Sandberg (GLS2017) launched #OptionBThere, a new initiative aimed at giving influencers practical tools to support grieving loved-ones during this season.

On Instagram, Sheryl Sandberg shared her vision for this campaign.

When my husband Dave died, friends and colleagues graciously asked, “Is there anything I can do?” One answer that came to mind felt like way too much of an imposition: “Can you make sure my children and I are never left alone on the holidays?” 

This is our family’s third holiday season without Dave. It still hurts—Dave loved this time of year, and after growing up in Minnesota, he especially loved the no-snow California winter. But it’s gotten better, and that’s thanks in large part to our amazing family and friends. They’ve done everything they can to support us through each and every holiday. And when we feel sad, even years later, nobody says, “Cheer up! It’s a celebration!” Instead, they say, “We get it. We love you. We’re here for you.” Everyone deserves that kind of support, especially at the holidays. That’s the idea behind a program that @optionb is launching today: #OptionBThere.

OptionBThere is about helping all of us be there for each other—acknowledging the elephant that remains in the room for so many people this time of year. [The website] has expert advice for what you can do to help your friends and loved ones find moments of joy during the holidays. And if you’re having a hard time right now, [the site] has #OptionBThere resources for you, too.

When people face major challenges like grief, we don’t always know what to say or do, so we end up not doing or saying anything. OptionBThere is all about doing something. Whatever you do, it’ll be a gesture of support at a moment when your friend really needs it. And your kindness may mean more than you ever know.

Here are eight of Sheryl’s most helpful ideas:

1. Say Something

Send an #OptionBThere card. Quirky cards from well-known illustrator Emily McDowell acknowledge how your loved ones may be feeling this season.

2. Lend A Hand

Give meaningful gifts. Find gift ideas, like a homemade photo album, which let a friend know how much you care—all sourced from the OptionB Community.

3. Celebrate The Good

Play a feel-good game. A custom #OptionBThere card game could be just what you need to help your loved ones focus on moments of joy, celebrate small victories and practice gratitude.

4. Just Be There

Host an “all- feelings welcome” dinner. The website provides a thoughtful guide from the experts at The Dinner Party that share how to host an event for friends who are struggling at this time of year.

5. Connect with Your Faith

Find inspiration in religious traditions. The website offers non-sectarian thoughts from Stanford University’s former dean of religious life about connecting with a faith tradition. At WCA, we encourage you to attend Christmas services at your church. If you don’t have a church home, find a WCA church in your area.

6. Cherish Memories Old and New

Support kids whose families have changed. Psychologists share research-based ways to help kids during this season.

7. Lend a Hand

Find a way to help. Find ideas for several practical ways to assist your struggling loved one this season.

8. Connect with People Who Understand

Join an Option B Facebook group to connect with people who’ve had similar experiences and are ready to offer support.

As influencers, it is our responsibility to love the individuals we are called to lead.  Take the time to do something—and offer a gesture of support that means so much.

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