The holidays are remembered as a joyous time of year, but for those dealing with the loss of a loved one, it can be anything but that.
Jackie Hook, spiritual director and celebrant end of life doula with John B. Brown Funeral Home, Huntingdon, said the best way to cope during this period is to take one step at a time.
“One of the big things I talk to people about is finding a balance,” she said. “It’s okay to want to remember your loved one, but you also want to balance and engage with what’s going on today.”
Hook encourages people to find the strength to move past guilty feelings. Instead, using the power of positive thinking, which can help people balance the conflicting emotions they have about celebrating the holidays after someone’s passing.
“It’s OK to want to feel grief, but also try to feel gratitude. I encourage people to think about the things you’re grateful for by picking five things you’re grateful for. It can help elevate a person’s mood,” said Hook. “Grief can be very heavy, and when you feel some of that, try saying to yourself, ‘I feel this way and I am grateful.’ This can really help during those tough times.”
When the power of positivity isn’t working, it’s best to have a grief companion by your side.
According to Hook, a good a grief companion is someone who is a bridge of support for the person going through the loss.
“It’s where you walk beside someone,” she said. “You don’t try to fix it or show them the way out. You are just present with them wherever they are.”
Hook also recommends family members and friends have an open discussion on what actions are appropriate to take when celebrating and honoring the person who has passed.
“Honest communication is important,” she said. “Talk to th family on how to celebrate the holidays and how to honor their lost loved one. Make sure to talk about it in advance, as this allows others to decide if they want to take part in the activity, and if not, they can decide not to be present.”
Hook said the best way for one to grieve over the holidays is to allow oneself feel those emotions.
“My suggestion is to allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, but to hold it in a way you would when holding a child who got hurt and came running to you for comfort,” said Hook. “I think that by actively allowing yourself to feel, it is a great way to take care of yourself.”
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