Colette Sexton, news correspondent at The Sunday Business Post, on how we can help people going through a difficult time this Christmas.
The song claims it’s the most wonderful time of the year but in reality, Christmas can be a tough time for many people out there. While some might gather in the loving embrace of their families to eat, drink and be merry together, a lot of people hate this time of year for many reasons. They might have lost a loved one. They might be fearful of the year ahead. Their family might have broken up. They might be homeless. They might have a family member who is seriously ill. They might have no-one to spend the holidays with. Here are some ways you can help.
There is a range of charities out there that will welcome any donation, big or small. Pick one that holds the most meaning for you. But donations do not have to be about money. If you have unwanted clothes or gifts, charities or homeless hostels would be happy to take them. Giving blood is also an important act over the festive season. At this time of year, there can be a fall in the number of people giving blood, as people are busy preparing for festivities. Last month, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service warned that the national blood stock reduced by 30 per cent since mid-October. Only 6 per cent of those in the 18 to 60-year-old age group actually give blood. So quit making excuses and go to your nearest clinic.
Share your time
If you can’t afford to give financially, then maybe you can volunteer in your free time or make a conscious effort to visit someone you know will be alone over the Christmas period. It is a busy time but even by spending 30 minutes with someone, it could brighten their day during this difficult time of year. You could even invite them over for Christmas dinner, or bring dinner to them if you know they are going to be alone.
Realise that not everyone will be having a “perfect” Christmas and be cognisant of that when talking to them. This is particularly important if they are grieving. It does not matter if it is their first, seventh or 29th Christmas without a loved one, it can still be very raw and painful. Let them talk about the person who has died. Let them cry if they need to. Do not tell them that you “understand”. Even if you are also grieving, no two losses are the same.
Make an effort
Think about ways the people in your life might need extra help at this time of year. Everyone’s needs are different but a helping hand can make a massive difference to them. Maybe they would like a lift to the shop, or help putting up a Christmas tree, or a babysitter so they can buy their children some presents. A little effort on your part could make a big difference to them.
If you are depressed this Christmas, please seek professional help. You can free call The Samaritans on 116 123 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247 (both are available 24/7). You can also text HELP to 51444 and someone from Pieta House will be in touch with you.