"Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" are words many of us start and end conversations and emails with this time of year. But lately I've started to rethink what to say. For some people close to me 2016 was especially hard. Saying "Happy Holidays" feels shallow when someone you know is grieving or facing a hardship.
The death of a loved one, the loss of one's home or job, or a health setback can happen to anyone, and the holidays can be an especially difficult time. How can you find the words to share hope and joy when someone may have lost their own?
What can you say when you are at a loss for words this holiday?
Here are a few suggestions based on my own experience dealing with grief in 2009 after my father died and I had begun treatment for breast cancer:
"I'm thinking of you and sending you comfort and love."
"I hope your holidays surround you with loved ones."
"During these holidays and in the new year I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers."
"The gift of your friendship is my favorite gift of all. And it's the one gift I want to return - back to you and in a larger size."
"As this year draws to a close my wish for you in 2017 is comfort, peace and love."
Try to avoid statements like, "I know things will get better" or "Count your blessings" or "Stay positive" or "With every dark cloud there is a silver lining."
Unless you can read peoples' minds don't assume you know what someone may be thinking or feeling. Unless you've walked in someone's shoes you may not fully understand what they are going through.
In some circumstances it may be easier to say nothing than to say the wrong thing. Trying doing something rather than saying something. If someone you know is going through a difficult time, offer to lend a hand, run an errand, take her kids on an outing to cheer them up or simply spend time with her and listen. One small act of kindness can speak volumes. A simple hug or an outreached hand can express in ways words may not.