Support group to help with grief, loss over holidays
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Thursday, November 15, 2012
11/15/12 at 3:30 AM
For some, the holiday season will be less cheerful than usual - perhaps even depressing.
Grief is difficult any time of year, but some people who have experienced loss feel that pain more keenly during the holidays, said chaplain Ken Bachelor, bereavement coordinator for Grace Hospice
That's why he will facilitate "Coping with Grief During the Holidays," a free support group to be offered 12-1 p.m. Nov. 19, Nov. 26 and Dec. 3 at the hospice, 6400 S. Lewis Ave.
The focus of the weekly groups will be on how the holiday season affects the grieving process, with Bachelor teaching how to make a plan for handling loss during the holidays - and what to expect once the holidays have ended.
Why holidays are difficult
The holiday season can kind of interrupt the grief process for many, Bachelor said. You flow along with day-to-day life, but the holidays change the routine.
Typically, the first year or two is toughest to adjust, he continued. Often, those grieving may feel pressure to be joyous and thankful. They don't want to impose that on themselves, but they also don't want to be a "downer" to those around them.
Then, there's a tendency to "swallow feelings down" and act like everything's fine, Bachelor said - even when they don't have the energy. It can be exhausting just struggling with giving themselves permission to say no to social obligations.
Advice for the grieving
In the support group, Bachelor will address how grieving people need to acknowledge that it's OK to grieve.
It's also OK to be selective with your company, he said, as not everyone can be supportive in your grief. So be around people you really enjoy.
Beyond that, delegate responsibility. If you're used to doing all the cooking for Thanksgiving, ask loved ones to share those duties - or take them over completely this year.
You should consider making new traditions if the old ones make you more depressed. Don't feel pressured to keep them just because they're something you've done every year.
Perhaps you could light a candle at a holiday meal to symbolize your lost loved one, Bachelor suggested. Or share stories about the loved one at the dinner table.
"Just to hear the special things about a loved one is a very comforting thing," he said.
Feel comfortable saying no, Bachelor said - especially when it comes to spending during the holidays. Some people get into compulsive behaviors, such as compulsive shopping, to make themselves feel better during the grief process, so be cautious of that.
For more about the support group, call Grace Hospice, 918-744-7223.
How to help someone who's grieving
The biggest gift you give this holiday season may be merely lending an ear.
"More than anything, people who are grieving need a chance to be able to talk about ... their loss, a memory of a loved one," said Ken Bachelor, a chaplain and bereavement coordinator for Grace Hospice.
It's supportive listening, he said; you don't have to do a lot of talking. "Just being present to a person who is grieving can be such a blessing to them."
Those grieving need reassurance that nothing is wrong, that grief is not an affliction - "it's part of a person's broken heart," Bachelor said.
Validate what the person's feeling. It's going to take some time, but you will be there for him or her while they find that "new normal" in his or her life.
Life will be different, especially with a deep loss of a special loved one. But reassure that life can have joy again.
In the mean time, monitor your grieving loved one for depression, which is common. If it persists, Bachelor warned, address the issue. Sense if the individual is withdrawing or struggling, or exhibiting destructive behaviors.
In these cases, speak to the grieving person about seeking active help in overcoming depression, Bachelor said - counseling, psychiatry, medication.
"The good news is most people get through it well, even with a very difficult loss," he said.
For more, including the upcoming free grief support group at Grace Hospice, call them at 918-744-7223.
‘COPING WITH GRIEF DURING THE HOLIDAYS’
What: Annual free support group
for coping with loss this time of
When: 12-1 p.m. Nov. 19, Nov. 26
and Dec. 3
Where: Grace Hospice, 6400 S.
Information: For more, call 918-744-7223
Original Print Headline: Support group helps grieving over holidays
Jason Ashley Wright 918-581-8483
Helping someone cope with grief during the holiday season often means just offering support and reassurance. Courtesy