Imagine yourself as a glass ornament, finely decorated and put up on display year after year. Suddenly, you fall and hit the ground breaking into a million pieces. You pick up the pieces, but they never seem to fit back together the way they once did, especially when holiday seasons rolls around. Three of our grief experts weigh in on how to make the most of the seasons when you are feeling the loss of a loved one.
Understanding Holiday Grief Triggers
Grief is a normal emotion and is a result of the experience of loss. It is also unique to each individual's culture and family of origin. Loss can also be experienced in many forms. After experiencing a loss, the holidays can trigger grief. Understanding what can trigger unconscious grief reactions can help us figure out why we might be struggling emotionally or psychologically during the holidays. As you identify triggers, try to have a plan in place. Do not let anyone tell you how you feel. Plan activities and ways to stay busy; seek help for mental and physical health needs; join an activity group; and do something you would have enjoyed prior to your loss. Most importantly, always be kind to yourself.
by Marcia Socorro, MSW
The Sounds of Sorrow: Using Music As a Tool in Bereavement
What can be most difficult when grieving is the urge to isolate and pull away from support systems. Music can be a way to reconnect with others during the grieving process. It can be used as a tool to process and cope with grief. Just as everyone grieves individually, different types of music can mean many different things to many different people.
Keep in mind that hearing certain songs around the holidays may be a grief trigger. Hearing a song that was played during a significant life event can bring back all the emotions that were stored in that memory. Whether those memories are good or difficult to experience, they will ultimately help you process through grief. Music and reminiscing can also be a good tool to use in bereavement. Share your memories, funny stories, and start making new holiday traditions with the music of the heart.
by Patricia Chaviano, MT-BC
Spiritual Reaction to Loss
Death often prompts us to question the meaning of our existence. We often ask ourselves: "Where do I come from?" "Who am I?" "Why am I here?" "Where am I going?" Many people experience strong spiritual reactions when confronted with a significant loss. They may wonder, "Why me?" "Why now?" "I am a good person; I don't deserve this." "Is this a punishment?" Others may experience anger, depression, loneliness, anxiety, frustration, and isolation.
Some people find strength and consolation in their faith, their congregation, Bible scripture or prayer groups. Try becoming an active member of your church. You may meet others who can help your grief journey. Attend prayer groups, participate in religious study, or join the choir. Mathew 5:4 reminds us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
by Jose DeLoera, M.DIV.
All the authors serve at Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care