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Your first Christmas without someone you love – part 4: If you need help from others then let them k

Now how is that for a novel idea huh? Asking for help.

Offering to help is something we are usually good at. There are times we will tell others that we are there for them, that they only need call. But we, in general, are often less likely to ask for this help ourselves, even when it is offered.

There are two problems with this:

1. People learn how to behave around you as much from your actions as your words. If you rarely allow others to help you or ask for help from them then don’t be surprised when they don’t feel totally comfortable or able to ask you for help. If you tell a friend that they can call you anytime of the night, while you have never and will never call them ‘anytime of the night’, then expect them to find it less-than-easy to contact you at 3am when they need to. I had this exact feedback from a friend once who said she felt she couldn’t lean on me because it seemed I never needed to lean on her. Note: I did actually really need to. I was just a bit busy being a martyr to ask.

And…much more importantly in this case…

2. Because if you don’t ask for help the chances are you won’t get it. People aren’t mind-readers.

If someone important to you died this year and you are struggling with the idea of Christmas coming up and if there is something specific others can do for you…..then let them know. If you want to have a few minutes to share a story about your person who died then let your family know, and even ask if they’d like to join in. If you aren’t sure how you might feel when you wake up and would like to hear a friendly voice then arrange with a friend to have a chat early in the morning. If you need to be alone for part of the day then let the people who this will impact know about it so they can give you this space.

People don’t know what you need, they really don’t. So instead of saying ‘it’s Christmas and my friends should know how tough this is on me. Why haven’t any of them called?’ try letting some know that you’d like to hear from them.

There is one caveat here though – be realistic about what you want and who can do it. You already know that different people will be there for you in different ways. The friend who hasn’t really been ‘there for you’, but who you think should, is not the person you ask for that type of support now.

Different people will already have demonstrated whether they can be there at all, whether they can be there for distraction, or whether they can listen to and sit with your pain. You know who is right for what so only ask them for what they have shown you they can give. (If how others have reacted is a painful topic then check out my blog on that here.)

I received a call from a friend today, very similar to many calls and emails I receive, wanting to know how to act and what to say around a friend who had just had a death in their life. This can feel like a minefield for people around you and you may not have realized how much of a relief it is for them when you just let them know how to help, provided they can do what you ask.

So if you need something specific on Christmas day from the people in your life them tell them. It might be that the thing that would help you the most is something so simple….and that all you have to do is ask.

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