From the end of a relationship with a person, house, or job to the diagnosis and treatment of a serious illness, we all encounter struggles in our lives. A hug, a laugh and a supportive message from someone who cares go a long way in providing comfort to a heavy heart. Many people are unable to be with a friend or loved one as they adjust to a difficult situation. In some cases geography is an obstacle, in other cases it is schedules and time, but in all cases people want to find a way to show their support and provide gentle encouragement. In those situations people look for gifts and cards that convey a message of support.

Many difficult life transitions trigger feelings of grief and loss. These feelings are not unique to the experience of death. They are experienced in varying degrees by those experiencing life transitions. Transitions are the end of something and the beginning of another. It is the ending that people grieve. In the situation of a health crisis, feelings of grief relate to the loss of health, abilities, stability, and the fear of the unknown. When a relationship ends feelings of grief are experienced even though there is not a physical death. The people in the relationship must now experience life without the interactions of the other person. The grief relates to those times when something would have been shared and, in the present, the relationship does not exist, so that shared moment does not evolve in a way that is familiar. A new experience is created, and in that new experience there are feelings of grief.

Recognizing that friends and loved ones are experiencing grief during difficult life transitions allows others to respond to that situation in ways that provide support. The caring of friends and loved ones is a key to recovery through any difficult situation. People need to have their losses and transitions acknowledged by others. It is validating in an essential way to know others recognize feelings of hurt and loss. The acknowledgement provides strength through each day.

Chellie Bonebrake has a Masters Degree in Social Work and has spent over 12 years counseling people who are grieving. She is also the co-owner of an online sympathy gift company specializing in gifts for sympathy, pet loss, garden memorial gifts and gifts for serious illness. Visit to see their selection of Sympathy Gifts for a Grieving Heart and read other articles written by Chellie in the Grief and Healing Newsletter

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