Grief and Loss Counseling, by Frieda L. Ferrick, MFT: Coping Through the Holidays

If you have experienced the death of a family member or close friend right around this time of year, it can bring up extra stress for you. There it is, lights, carols, music, presents to think about, food, get togethers, and there you are sad, lonely, upset and not really ready to be in the holiday spirit.  So what can you do?  Are you allowed to take care of yourself during this time of year without feeling you are bringing everyone around you down?

You can pretend for a  short while that you are ok, but newly grieving folks cannot keep up the pretense for long.  And the question is, why should you?  Death is a part of life, but it is a hard part and losing someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with whether it be a spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend  is painful  You did not have any say in this, sometimes you did not even get to say goodbye, I love you.

So, what can you do?

* Get plenty of rest

*Visit with family or friends that understand how you are feeling, keep the numbers low.

*Start new traditions that feel ok for you.  If you want a tree have one, if it is too much, let it go, light a candle for the departed one.

*Talk to someone who understands grieving.  There are grief counselors and grief groups, especially around the time of the holidays.

*Allow yourself to feel your sadness and know that you won’t always feel this alone.

You will experience people who will say things that hurt or irritate you.  These folks want you to feel better and they don’t always know what to say that will be helpful.  Or they ignore your loss and pretend that everything is ok. They want you to be the way you use to be before your loss.

Well, you are different now, you have experienced profound loss and it will take you awhile to feel in balance with life again.

Take your time, be respectful of this loss.  Take care of your wounded heart.