Supporting the bereaved over Christmas-time
Bereaved families are some of those who need supportive contact around this time of year. By simply acknowledging that Christmas can be a difficult time, the family can be reminded of the care of their church. These ideas, offered from busy clergy, are simple, but focused.
- Simply send a Christmas card to all those whose family funerals you have done in the last 1- 3 years. Include details of your usual Christmas services, but also of any particular remembrance/memorial events you are putting on.
- Be aware of other helpful services that will be happening locally too – most hospices host a ‘Light up a Life’ type service in the lead up to Christmas at one of the local churches. If it’s not at your church, there’s still no reason why your contacts might not find it helpful, so tell them about it.
- Pick up the phone and call someone who may need a ‘how are you’ conversation at this particularly difficult time of year.
- Choose an evening during the week before Christmas to have the church open specifically for people to come in and remember a loved one by lighting a candle, or arrange to have the church open over a period of time for this purpose. For some people this will be more accessible than attending a particular event.
- It can be helpful to invite bereaved people to events that bring the community together, such as fetes, to help them keep in contact with others. This may be especially the case for people who live on their own.
- Don’t forget to send your Funeral Director a Christmas card – or even drop round with some chocolates or mince pies!
- Could you liaise with your local crematorium/cemetery/woodland burial park and offer a brief service there before Christmas? Sometimes they are easier spaces for people to manage than a church and they may be very open to working together.
- If your church runs a bereavement support group, you may like to highlight their work more widely in December.
- One of the things that bereaved people often feel more than anyone is that nobody acknowledges their loved one any more: people are frightened to speak of them. Perhaps your congregation can get involved by thinking of those they know who are bereaved and sending a personal memento in memory of the loved one at Christmas – a miniature framed photo, or a small gift that represents something significant about the person who died.