How To Give Birthday Wishes For Someone Who Has Lost A Loved One
Learning to live with grief is always difficult, but there are some days that are harder than others. Birthdays are particularly difficult for those dealing with grief. While it should be a joyous occasion, many people feel guilty for taking pleasure in the day. They might also notice the absence of their loved one more acutely on their birthday.
Knowing whether to wish someone a happy birthday when they are grieving is never easy. It might feel insensitive to wish them happiness, so instead, you might simply want to check-in.
Letting a person know that you are thinking of them can bring a lot of comfort and reassurance. This could be in the form of a visit, a surprise gift, or even just a text message. When you acknowledge that it must be a difficult day for the person, you effectively lighten their load. You let them know that it’s okay to not be okay, and that is all anyone ever needs.
Why you should check in on special occasions
It can be hard to know what to say or do when someone is grieving. It’s important to check in with them every now and then, so they know you're there for them. After the funeral, many people find that the crowds thin out and the wellwishers disappear, which can leave people feeling vulnerable and lonely. By making sure you check in periodically, you can ensure that their support network never disappears.
It's important to not just "check in" with someone who is grieving, but also ask how they are doing. This can be a really difficult question to answer and it may take time before the person feels comfortable enough to share their feelings. Don't push the person into telling you how they feel right away if they don't want to talk about it yet. Letting them know that you’ll be there to talk when they are ready to share is often sufficient.
Should you wish someone a happy birthday?
It can feel strange saying “happy birthday” when you know someone is feeling incredible sadness. Instead, you can try to frame it differently. For example, you could send the following messages:
- I know today must be incredibly difficult for you and I want you to know I’m here if you need anything.
- I’m sure today has been difficult but I hope you found some joy in the sadness.
- I hope these flowers brighten your day, thinking of you today.
It is important to remember that the grieving process is different for everyone. It can be helpful to offer support in any way you can but don't push too hard.
It can be difficult to know what to say or do when someone close to you is grieving. There are no right or wrong ways of doing this, but there are some things that may make it easier for them.
Checking in with them often and offering a listening ear is one way of showing your support and care. You could also send a card with a kind message or just buy them a cake on their birthday if they don't want anything more personal. Offer to drop by for a visit for they have the option of companionship, but let them know you’re also happy to leave them to their solitude.
How should you reach out to them?
It is important to recognise that when someone is grieving, they are not always in the best state of mind and might not be receptive to your message. Let them know that you don’t expect a response so they don’t feel obligated to get back to you straight away.
The best way to reach out to them is by picking up the phone or visiting them in person, but only if you know they will respond positively. If you are unsure of their response, it might be better to send a text message to check-in.
Think about your existing relationship with them and how you would normally reach out. It can be a nice touch to send flowers and a card on someone’s birthday so that you can be sure they receive a gift. It’s easy to assume that someone else will buy the person a gift, but if everyone does this then they could go the whole day with nothing to unwrap and no surprises. An incredibly thoughtful gift for a close friend would be one of these necklaces for ashes and hair.
What’s the best way to offer support?
When someone you know is grieving, it can be difficult to know what to say or do. But the best way you can help is by not forcing anything on them. Let them know you are ready to listen or talk whenever they are ready, and give them some space if they need it.
The best way to offer support is to listen and be there for them. When someone is in pain they need to know that they are not alone, that someone understands and cares enough to go through what they are going through with them. Compassionate listening is so important because it gives the person the feeling of being understood in their most vulnerable state.
It’s important not to make assumptions about how they are feeling or what they need. One of the most common pitfalls for friends of those who are grieving is assuming that they know what their loved one needs. There are a number of ways to identify the needs of your loved one, including observing how they act, listening carefully to their requests, and asking questions about what they want.
And finally, when you offer to help, try backing it up with specific suggestions. This will make it easier for them to accept the offer. If you say “let me know if you need anything” they are unlikely to reach out when they really need something. But if you offer something specific like homemade meals, help getting places in the car, or even just a coffee and a catch-up, your friend will be far more likely to accept your offer.