Help with Healing Through the Holidays
December 19, 2017
HURON, S.D. – If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, trying to enjoy the holiday season with friends and family can sometimes feel overwhelming. Striking a balance between needing to grieve and feeling the pressure to get excited about the holidays and experience the spirit of the season can be difficult.“Give yourself permission to feel good, but also give yourself permission to grieve during the holidays, because tears are healing,” says Karen Decker, RN, BSN, MA, bereavement coordinator with HRMC Community Hospice. “If you need to scale back or redefine your holiday expectations, surround yourself with loved ones who understand that.”
Decker suggests finding small, meaningful ways to memorialize your loved ones, such as buying a live evergreen tree to plant after the holidays or donating a book to a local library in your loved one’s name.
Celebrations and family gatherings can also be full of painful reminders that heighten the sense of loss and oftentimes friends and family members are unsure how to act or what to say. Here are some tips from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization:
- Be understanding and supportive if someone wants to do things differently this holiday season. Some people find strength in long established traditions while others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.
- Offer to help with decorating or holiday cooking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving or overwhelmed by events going on in the world around us. Lending a hand can be a great way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and their wellbeing.
- Invite someone to join you or your family during the holidays. If someone you know seems down or depressed, consider inviting them to join you for a holiday concert, religious service or a holiday meal where they are a guest. You might even offer to accompany them on a holiday shopping trip where a friend and extra set of hands can be helpful.
- Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen, staffing a coat drive, or working with children, may lift your spirits and help everyone feel better about the holidays.
- Never tell someone that he or she should get ‘over it.’ It can be important to acknowledge that a friend or loved one is struggling. Don’t discount their emotions, but give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.
- Be willing to listen. Don’t avoid someone because you don’t know what to say. Active listening from friends and family is an important step to helping someone coping with grief or overwhelming feelings of loss. Letting them share their feelings can help healing.
- Don’t be afraid to remember someone who has died. When someone is grieving, it is okay to let them know that you are thinking of the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.
- Follow up after the holidays to check in. Given the activity of the season, some people may make it through the holidays without any issues but they might find the post-holiday period to be more difficult. So, circling back after the holidays to see how he or she is doing can help.
“Our Hospice philosophy has always recognized the need to provide emotional and spiritual support to those who are dealing with loss,” added Decker. “We offer support to not only families of our patients, but also community members struggling with grief or loss.”
Care Notes, pamphlet size information about dealing with grief, are available at HRMC Community Hospice Tree of Memories displays in the main hospital lobby and also at Fair City Foods or by calling 605-353-6520. More information is also available HRMC Community Hospice is available online at www.huronregional.org/hospice.
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