The holiday season is jolly for some, but challenging for others - and it can be especially painful for those who have lost close loved ones. Memories of past holidays, spent together, can trigger feelings of melancholy and aloneness. For those who have recently become widows or widowers, in particular, navigating the holidays presents some emotional hurdles.
So what can you do for the recent widows and widowers you know? Basically, remember them - and include them. Make a special effort to get gifts for those who are going through a season of loss, and understand that your friendship may be the most significant gift of all.
One thing that widows and widowers often find is that their couple friends stop inviting them to things - because, with the loss of a spouse, the widow or widower has become a "third wheel." As such, it can make all the difference in the world when you invite these individuals to join you and your family for a meal, or for a favorite holiday activity. Does your family attend a Christmas Eve worship service, or devote an evening to driving around to view festive lights? Occasions like these are great for inviting widows and widowers.
Even the physical gifts you buy can be opportunities for inclusion. If the widow or widower you know still has kids at home, you might consider a gift card to a local restaurant or to a movie theater - encouraging them to spend time having fun together. A gift card for a house cleaning service is also a good possibility - especially if you pair it with an invitation for the individual to join you for a game night or a relaxed family dinner while the cleaning is being done!
Widows and widowers may feel acute grief, but they are not as fragile as we think they are.