The holiday season is typically a time of joy and companionship—a time for visiting family, gathering with friends, celebrating the past year, and looking forward to the new year together. However, for people who have suffered the loss of a friend or loved one, the holidays may make that grief (whether it’s new or old) re-surface in new ways. If you’re experiencing grief this holiday, here are some things to consider. Whether this is your first holiday season without your friend or loved one, or your 10th holiday season without them, know that experiencing grief during the holidays is common and that you are not alone. Take some time to re-examine your holiday plans and tasks and decide what you can do. Ask for, and accept, help from others when it comes to shopping and preparing for meals and get-togethers.
If you’ve typically spent your previous holiday seasons bopping from one party to another, or if you’re used to hosting a large get-together at your home for all of your friends and family, you may feel like you have to continue to do this. Instead, ask yourself if that is the right environment for you, or if you would prefer to attend a smaller get-together with only your immediate family or close friends. You can also look for other, new events that you might enjoy, like attending a particular church service or spending time with a senior’s group in your area.
If your friend or loved one typically carves the ham on Christmas Day, or prepares the champagne toast on New Year’s Eve, plan a new tradition. Maybe it’s time to pass the carving knife to a grandson to carry on the tradition, or perhaps it’s even time for you to pour the champagne and raise a toast to your lost loved one. Whatever your traditions were, be prepared to adjust them to fit your life now, and know that you can grow to love these new traditions as well.
When it comes down to it, a major part of grief is trying to recognize what you need and giving that to yourself. For many people, this means allowing themselves to grieve and surrounding themselves with loved ones while keeping their physical health up by eating well and staying in motion. It’s also important to recognize when you, or a senior in your life, may need additional help in their grief. If you or your senior loved one is experiencing depression or anxiety due to grief that is disrupting life, it could require an increased level of care. A short stay of seven to ten days at the Sylvia Barr Center can help patients understand what they are facing, build a treatment plan with a psychiatrist, and get back on their feet.
Patients can refer themselves to the Sylvia Barr Center or be referred by their family member, physician, hospital, assisted living facility, or nursing home. Call the Sylvia Barr Center at 229-896-8100 for more information.