Holiday grief

Mark Adams

When you have lost a loved one all holidays can be painful, but we are coming in to the season of the biggest holidays, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s, that are usually the most difficult for those who were left to grieve. Grief is intensified now since all cultures promote that people should be happy on the holidays. Know that you can and will get through the pain and it is the pain, not the grief, which you want to avoid.

Of course, it can be quite difficult dealing with memories spent with our loved ones at holiday times when the rest of the world wants to be festive. This can be true whether the loss was recent or not. It can be quite helpful to have family members close and supportive, although it might be hard to socialize now. There are no fixed rules as to how to handle grief. What is suggested though, is not to isolate for too long. If there is a gathering that you would like to attend, feel free to leave if it becomes too uncomfortable. People will try to be kind but they will still say things that will sound stupid to you. If you can, smile and know they mean well. That is the easiest way through these situations.

If you are having a gathering of your family and you are wondering how to deal with the new loss, consider: 1) Setting an empty seat at the table; 2) Ask everyone to share a favorite story about your loved one; 3) Ask the table guests to share a funny story about your loved one.

These suggestions are offered because everyone present knows who is missing and are afraid to talk about the missing person for fear of causing pain. We know from experience that the black cloud that hovers above the gathering will dissipate with the smiles and maybe even laughter brought by the memories that the stories that are shared create. We know the sadness that people feel when others fail to mention the name of their loved one who has died. They want to talk about that very special person, even through tears, and will be so grateful to you, strong person, who invite them to share their story.

Another safe place to deal with those feelings and get needed support is a Bereavement Group. Those attending all have suffered a loss, whether recent or in the past. Since those people attending all have similar losses, it is much easier to express feelings knowing they can closely relate. Strangers soon become special friends who walk with you on this special journey. You are there for each other. It may take some time for a newcomer to the Bereavement Group to rely on the commitment of confidentiality, to truly believe that what is said in the group stays in the group. But soon they learn that this insures that each person can express something that they could not express outside the group. As a newcomer hears others share their heart felt stories of their own losses, they are given courage to be able to share their own. Seeing others experience growth and healing assures that healing will come. As we heal from the pain of loss, the memories of our loved ones are not forgotten.

The SaddleBrooke Bereavement Group meets every Sunday from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at HOA One Coyote Room South (lower level). It is an open group, in that any person who has had a loss, whether recent or otherwise, can attend. Direct questions to 825-8980. Thanks to SaddleBrooke One for providing the accommodations for this much needed group.