"Grief During the Holiday's"

One of the most difficult topics for many of us to discuss is the topic of grief. Grief is the loss and deep sorrow of someone or something. “Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Of itself, grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder.” (Grief Recovery Institute, 2015). The overwhelm of emotions that accompanies grief makes it difficult for many to discuss or seek the necessary support around grieving the loss.

According to the Kubler-Ross Model there are five stages of grief: Denial , Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. This is a cycle that may repeat itself after one has reached all stages. Grief unfortunately, does not have a prescribed expiration date. Therefore, there is not amount of time that one may not re-experience the loss all over again. The hope is with support, the stages do not last as long or one have found ways to cope when they are beginning to re-experience grief symptoms. It is my thought this is when many people refer to "with time all wounds heal"; while that is often well intentioned to help someone think of potential positives, it does quiet the opposite and minimizes the feelings surrounding the grief.

Here are some helpful tips when helping a loved one deal with grieving the loss of a loved during the Holiday season

- Acknowledging the loss of the loved one and that it is difficult

- Creating new memories and possibly new traditions

- Incorporating happy memories of the loved one during conversations

- Lighting a candle in honor of the loved one

- Writing a note and sending up a balloon for the loved one

- Creating a ornament or get a ornament with your loved ones name on it (In memory of)

- Sitting with your feelings and journaling (remembering its okay to cry)

- Being honest in saying when you need help around this time of year

- Seeking a grief support group

- Seeking individual counseling

- Be aware of your feelings and use healthy coping skills

- Deep breathing

- Practice self-compassion and mindfulness

These are just a few quick tips to begin the conversation and normalize that grief is complex and everyone experiences grief differently. As always, my best,

Shatara Sheppard, MA, LPCA, NCC

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