Tips for Hosts
Your guests have likely endured quite a journey and maybe have feelings linked to displacement and trauma. Their mental wellbeing should be top of your priorities, so please consider these guidelines when hosting.
Support them with a sense of security, by being open and transparent about your home life and the people in your home.
Don’t initiate conversations about war. When they want to share they will discuss it themselves. In that case you just need to listen with an open heart and mind. Don’t try to offer silver linings or suggest everything is now good.
Don’t give an opinion about the politics of the war or disagree with their perception. This is very important. Your opinion shouldn’t be in the forefront. In general your opinions may not helpful.
Don’t push for physical contact. Give them space. Sometimes our impulse to hug can come from our difficulty to be present with their pain. A hug should be invited.
Help them to feel autonomous. If they offer to help, let them. Don’t try to do everything for them as it can be disempowering. Sometimes in wanting to be a good host we can inadvertently deliver the opposite feeling – feeling restricted or mollycoddled.
Give them options. Be sensitive to their state of mind, don’t force activities.
Offer support. Sometimes at first it is hard and overwhelming for someone to accept help, so you might need to repeat it. But be mindful not to be pushy. This can be a thin line.
If appropriate, you can ask if they know someone in Germany. When people are in a stressed or difficult situation they sometimes forget that they may have an acquaintance or a relative who could support.
Offer practical help and information if needed. Follow what is important for them not to you. For example for someone it might be important to take care of their appearance as that gives them feeling of normality.
Be interested about who they are independent of their war experience.
Don’t expect thanks for hosting people. But be aware it makes a big difference to be welcomed into someone’s home and have a personal connection. You are planting the seeds of healing.