Today I’d like to talk about the challenges of this season. I know from experience that not all times are happy and joy filled. There are situations of loss, grief, discord and sometimes a wish for it to all pass quickly. This is also a time of year when stress and depression are a part of people’s life. Whether these may be personal experiences or within your circle of friends, following are a few ideas from Hospice to consider:
Be realistic- as your family situations changes, think about how the holiday traditions can change and adapt
Communicate- talk with family members to give their thoughts and preferences about participating in holiday preparations and traditions. A family meeting might be a good way to find out what everyone is thinking before the events. Having a change to talk about what you really want to look forward to and what you are not ready to do in your loved one’s absence can be a step in healing from your grief.
As you talk with others and think about what to keep and what to change reach out to your support system so they can be a part of helping during this season. Isolation may not be the way to cope, depression can easily invade when there’s no outside influence. Plan to be with your friends and family even if it’s only for a short time. Ask someone to go with you to be that support that you can leave with if the moment is to tender.
Grief is going to look different for everyone. Feelings of sadness will come and go, energy levels will change, happy one minute and sad the next, all are normal moments. Be aware of these and don’t be hard on yourself, hopefully others will understand how your feel and be there to support you through them.
Realize that the fear of the gathering during the holiday may be worse than the event itself. Dreading things can paralyze our emotions, but as hard as it to watch life going on around us, friends and family who understand can help support through this difficult time.
Sometimes taking the focus off of your personal situation can be helpful. Volunteer someplace to share joy with others, or visit others who can’t get out during this time of year.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Depression can be an overwhelming feeling and there are many resources available in our community. Here’s a link to some of them: https://www.whmhrb.org/
Or the crisis hotline is 330-264-9029 or 1-800-273-(talk)8255
Most of this article focuses on the adults, but please don’t forget the children. They may appear to be coping well, but the holidays can be especially difficult for them. Involve them in the planning and explain they may have some sad times and that’s ok. Planning can help to minimize the pain and aid with the healing. Don’t be afraid to alter or change the traditions or rituals that you may have planned to do. Plan to have time for them to talk about their memories and feelings, maybe through play, coloring or telling stories. Think about sharing the gifts they remember getting from their loved one or maybe the intangible gifts they gave? Be honest, they need to hear the truth from those they love, but don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” if the questions are ones you can’t answer.
Remember to give yourself and your family permission to celebrate without guild or feeling bad. Accept the emotions that may come and go, but talking about the expectations and what the plans are will assist in a better holiday for everyone. Additional ideas are found at https://childrengrieve.org/resources/10-ways-to-help-a-grieving-child.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
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