Coping during the Holidays

Published by 4Hope on 2004/12/15 (5393 reads)
This interview was recorded live in the KEOM studios during December.
Taped in Mesquite, Texas with the Station Director, Dr. James Griffin.

Dr. Griffin: So, Barb, what are we talking about today?

Barb: Today I thought we'd talk a little about the holidays. We've really already entered into the Holiday Season. And, for those who are grieving, many times, this time of year seems nearly unbearable. How many of us have been chatting with a friend, telling them about some party that we're planning or sharing with them the joys of a family gathering, only to have them tell us that this time of year is so hard for them because they lost someone dear? Those who are grieving a major loss, or even a loss that we might not consider so major, often find the holiday season painfully difficult. Many folks have told us, "You know, I just want to pull the covers over my head from November until January, and pretend like nothing is happening!"

Dr. Griffin: I know that's hard. So what can we do when we are grieving losses?

Barb: First we have to be attentive to the fact that there has been a loss. Sometimes this time of year may bring the anniversary of the death of a loved one. This too can be painful, even if the death was years ago. The important thing is that if we have a lot of feelings of grief around this time of year, we should honor those feelings. This means taking time for ourselves, time to recognize our feelings, perhaps even write about the grief feelings that we are experiencing. One of the most understandable yet biggest mistakes that we can make is to ignore the grief or pretend that it isn't there. It's important to take time for our grief, for tears, and for remembering.

Dr. Griffin: As you mentioned at the beginning, family is so much a part of the season. How can we cope with family that may have different experiences than our own?

Barb: That's a great question! We need to recognize that every person grieves at different speeds and in different ways. Some choose, perhaps to their own detriment, not to grieve at all. It is important that we honor those differences in others, and in ourselves. As an example, one griever may choose to withdraw for a year from some of family festivities. He or she may be too emotionally exhausted. This is natural. For families to rush the grief process in the name of holiday festivities only increases the deep sense of loss, and the pain of going through the grief process.

Dr. Griffin: Does it also follow that we should pace ourselves during the holidays?

Barb: Yes. Many people who are actively grieving feel like they are in slow motion. This is normal and natural. And, it only fits that they will feel better about the holidays if they reserve the right to participate in activities as they desire, and withdraw as they need to.

Dr. Griffin: Any final words?

Barb: Yes. Call your friends who have lost someone this past year. Don't put it off. Many folks who are grieving tell me, "No one ever calls me any more. I feel like I'm the one who died." We need to have our grief remembered and to be given the opportunity and space to talk about our losses. This is the best gift we can give a grieving friend is to just be with them and let them talk.

Tags: loss   coping   holiday  

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