Holiday season is traditionally a happy time of year. We gather with family and friends and enjoy fun and fellowship. But for those who have suffered the death of a loved one, the holidays can be difficult.
What can a person who is grieving a loss do to make it through the holidays?
Dr. Alan Wolfelt has several suggestions to help you cope with feelings of sadness during what is generally a festive time of year. Dr. Wolfelt is a grief specialist.
- Talk about your grief. Seek the company of a friend or relative who will listen and allow you to share your feelings.
- Do what is right for you. If family or friends have made special plans for you, but you don’t feel comfortable with those plans, speak up. Let them know your wishes about what you would like to do.
- Talk about the person who has died. Mention him or her by name. Talking about the loved one you have lost and sharing memories—both good and bad—can lead to laughter or tears. Remember that it is okay to laugh. And okay to cry.
- Don’t do too much. Grief and sadness can affect your energy levels. If your body is telling you to slow down, listen.
- If certain family holiday traditions are likely to make you uncomfortable, it is your choice whether or not to participate. Similarly, if you wish to begin a new family tradition, let your feelings be known. Anticipate what might happen at family gatherings rather than being caught off guard.
This quote from Dr. Wolfelt gets to the heart of the matter. “As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Don’t let anyone take your grief away. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.”
For questions about grief counseling or any other aspects of hospice care, please call Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800. Hope Hospice serves patients and families in metro St. Louis, Missouri.
(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94828981@N08/9149741897, http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/)
Holidays can be emotional and painful for those who have recently lost loved ones. One less seat at the Thanksgiving table is a reality for many as this week’s holiday approaches.
Dealing with grief is part of the mission of Hope Hospice. Chaplain John Wilson has made available a list of Twelve Freedoms of Grief written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt, author of several books about grief.
The gist of his message is that grief is a natural human condition and all of us have the freedom to grieve.
At the top of his list is: You have the freedom to realize your grief is unique. When friends and other family members compare their own grieving experiences to yours, they may suggest that you should be ready to move on. Or they may be surprised by a perceived lack of sadness and sorrow on your part. Your circumstances and your support system are likely to impact your grief and will cause your grief to be unlike that of others.
Another freedom of grief from Dr. Wolfelt: You have the freedom to feel a multitude of emotions. If you feel disorientation, sadness, guilt, anger, relief or any other emotion following the death of a loved one, it’s okay. You may experience all these emotions within a short period of time, causing confusion. Dr. Wolfelt reminds us that these are normal responses to death.
You have the freedom to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits, writes Dr. Wolfelt. He suggests that making sure you eat right and get enough sleep can help you get through this difficult time. If grief has made it hard for you to get things done, acknowledge your fatigue and realize that you may not get everything accomplished that you might like to.
Another important freedom from Dr. Wolfelt: You have the freedom to cherish your memories. As you gather this Thanksgiving, talk about the loved one who has passed away. Share stories that may bring laughter as well as those that may bring tears. He says, “Memories…remind you that love never ends.”
If you are dealing with grief and would like a copy of the Twelve Freedoms of Grief, call John Wilson at Hope Hospice at 314-984-9800.
Hope Hospice serves patients and families in St. Louis city and county and in Jefferson, St. Charles and Franklin counties. Call Hope Hospice for any questions you may have about hospice care in metro St. Louis. 314-984-9800.
(photo credit: eflon via photopin cc)