Coping with loss of a loved one during the holidays: our experts can help you

Staff Report
December 01, 2006 at 12:10 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

BOUTTE - The holidays are a joyous time for most of us, but for those who have experienced the death of a loved one and are still grieving, the festive time of year can be a painful reminder that the friend or family member is no longer around.

"Traditionally the holidays are a time of family, friends and laughter, but for people who are in the grieving process, the holidays can enhance feelings of personal grief and separate us from what used to make us happy," Cynthia Bozich-Keith, left, a clinical assistant professor in Purdue University's School of Nursing, told the Herald-Guide.

She offers the following suggestions for coping:

- Be gentle with yourself. Take time out to care for yourself, whether it is through pampering or just slowing your pace.

- Eat wholesome, nutritious foods, exercise, get adequate sleep and avoid alcohol.

- Talk about your feelings with people you love and who love you. Allow yourself the right to talk about the person who died. The process of sharing memories may help with the healing process.

- Set limits. Be realistic about the difference between what you want to do and what you can do versus what you should do. "The shoulds will get you every time," Bozich-Keith says.

"It's important to let go of the need to be perfect or doing it all. If you're used to doing all of the shopping, cooking and decorating around the holidays, perhaps this is the year to share those things with others."

- Don't feel guilty if you find yourself enjoying yourself around the holidays.

"Itís not disrespectful to the memory of your loved one if you have a good time," she says. "Your loved one would be happy to know you are enjoying yourself."

- Embrace your memories and find comfort in them. "This is the bittersweet part," she says.

"Our memories often bring us to both tears and laughter, but they are what sustain us through the years."

- Celebrate life. Attend a holiday or religious service if faith is part of your life. Some people find comfort in acts of remembrance such as donating a poinsettia in memory of a loved one at church or making a donation in their name to a charity.

Also, recognize that it is acceptable to create new traditions.

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