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Friday December 1, 2017


Your television, your social media and your friends are all encouraging you to "get into the season" and "be merry and bright." However, you might be having a hard time embracing the holiday season this year, especially if you've recently lost someone near and dear to your heart.

Dealing with loss is never easy, and even after months of managing, the holidays have a way of dredging up sad feelings, making it harder to cope. If you're anxious about the upcoming holidays, here are some ways to take care of yourself and make the most of time with family and friends.

Talk It Out

The biggest misconception of grief is that we have to face it alone. While everyone experiences grief differently, the feeling is something everyone will endure in their lifetime. And this shared experience gives us the opportunity to sympathize with each other. Whenever you think about a person you've lost or you start feeling depressed, it's okay to let a friend or family member know. Sometimes talking about your grief will lighten the load. If you don't feel like opening up to family or friends, you can also turn to the help of a counselor. These people are trained to help individuals handle difficult situations such as loss and can give you an outlet for expressing your grief.

Spend Time with Loved Ones

Regardless of whether you openly talk about your grief with friends and family, you should still strive to spend plenty of time with them. The company you keep can have a contagious effect on your spirits. While you might not feel like getting out of the house and going to family parties or hanging out with friends, spending time with other people will help quell your holiday blues and keep you from being alone. Don't be afraid to push yourself out, even if your impulse is to stay in. When it comes to fighting off sadness, there is always strength in numbers.

Find an Animal Companion

For times when there isn't much going on, and you find yourself at home alone with your depression slowly building, you'll want to have something to keep you busy. Many people dealing with depression and anxiety often rely on the support of their pets. Psychologists agree that having a dog is a great way to fight off feelings of depression, and a dog encourages those suffering from loss to open their hearts once again. Owning a dog forces you to put your own worries and sadness aside and fill their need for attention and affection. When a canine companion reciprocates the same amount of attention and affection, it can fill your heart with pure joy.

Look for the Silver Lining

How the holidays impact you will also depend on how you're dealing with your loss. It's important to accept the fact that you are going to feel sadness, and it's okay to miss a person who meant so much to you. Spending time with family, friends, or a faithful canine friend all fall beneath a larger strategy of handling your grief by engaging your mind in other activities. While you will never forget the person you lost, you should still give yourself the opportunity to move on from the same vicious cycles of guilt, depression and anxiety that often follow a death. You deserve to cherish their memory in a way that reminds you of the joy you shared with them in life, and not the circumstances of their death.

So talk, spend time with loved ones, get yourself out and about, sing carols and eat lots of holiday comfort foods. Curl up under a blanket with your pet and give them a squeeze, they won't mind. None of this will keep you from feeling sad, but it can help you feel a little more merry and bright. 

—Lucille Rosetti, The Bereaved.org

Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more information, contact us today at 336-789-2922 (toll-free 1-888-789-2922).


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Tags: Grief Support