Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When the holidays are anything but happy December 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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An edited photo of a sign promoting kindness as part of The Virtues Trail Project in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


THIS PAST YEAR SEVERAL FRIENDS lost loved ones—one to suicide, another to an aggressive cancer, the other to advanced age-related health issues. Friends are battling cancer. Other friends are facing a myriad of challenges.

Christmas is not always easy. It can be downright difficult when you’re missing a loved one or working through something that’s really really tough. I get that. And I hope in some small way that my friends feel my care for them. I’ve reached out with words of comfort, with hugs, with a recognition of their struggles. I don’t pretend that I can erase their grief or solve the issues that are affecting their lives. I simply want them to know that they are not alone, even if they feel alone.

More than ever, it’s important for each of us to step outside of ourselves and recognize that people are hurting. Within our circles of family and friends. It’s important to realize that loss—whether by death or through strained relationships or other factors—hurts. We can ease that hurt by caring. Caring enough to ask, “How are you?” Caring enough to validate an individual’s loss and say, “I’m sorry.” Or “I’m here for you.” It doesn’t take a lot of effort. But it takes that pause, that ability to recognize that saying something is better than remaining silent.

I understand. I’ve heard words of care and support when I needed them. But I’ve heard, too, the loudness of silence.

TELL ME: How do you support family and friends dealing with a loss and/or a difficulty, especially during the holiday season?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “When the holidays are anything but happy”

  1. By reaching out and checking in. Through caring and support. With a “How are you doing?” and I am here for you. Lending an ear and a shoulder to lean in on. It is not easy to navigate, however; I try to read their body language and open my ears to listen. Take Care – thanks for the reminder.

    • The ways in which you help others is spot on. I especially appreciate that you mentioned paying attention to body language and also the importance of listening. Listening is a big thing in helping others. Not talking about your own issues, but listening to theirs. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

  2. So wise. Just knowing that another human being acknowledges you and your struggle is often comfort in itself. I wonderfully thoughtful post.

  3. Valerie Says:

    I am sometimes amazed at peoples silences…and I don’t understand why.
    I, too, try to acknowledge other people’s feelings and/or struggles.

  4. Littlesundog Says:

    We spent the holiday week in a hospital. Family has come together to support Forrest’s mother in the last stages of cancer. It’s been a time of patching up problems between relatives and asking forgiveness. We have bonded with people in surrounding rooms and people we meet on the elevator. Sometimes the most difficult situations bring compassion and love where we least expect it.

    • I’m so sorry for the loss you and Forrest are facing of his mother. But I am thankful for the healing that’s happening and the support you are feeling from others in the hospital. I appreciate your insights, Lori, and wish you peace during this difficult time.

  5. Holidays are certainly a mixed bag of emotions, aren’t they? Death and illness and losses of many kinds can color the experience and I, like you, try to be sensitive. It is difficult at times to know what others are going through but sensitivity is key, right?

  6. Jackie Says:

    A good friend of mine died one year ago yesterday…the day after Christmas. I miss her, but mostly I’m sad for her 3 adult children and grandchildren who miss her more. I share memories with them of the stories she told us of her family. She loved her family sooooo much. The 3 children lost their dad to cancer when they were just little. Now their mom to the same horrible affliction. I rest in knowing that Sherry and her children all love the Lord and cherish the hope that has been promised despite the sadness. I think sharing memories of their mother from a different perspective is an incredible gift to the kids.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    There is nothing worse than silence when you need someone. I like to send little care packages to loved ones.

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