Grieving during the holidays and learning how to cope

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The Holiday season is around the corner. Thanksgiving – Christmas and New Year’s bring joy to many, but for others, they are painful reminders of loss.

According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can be caused by grief or loss.

I spoke with Veronica Harrison, a licensed counselor at Community Counseling Services, who said that grieving is a process, but there are steps you can take to move forward.

“One of the best things is just being honest and saying; I am experiencing a loss or today it is not my day. Being honest about your feelings, telling people how you feel, having a confidant, if they have someone that they can talk to if you have a spirituality that is exceptionally good for a person,” Harrison said.

And when talking to family and friends doesn’t help…

“Getting counseling services is extremely beneficial trying to talk to someone. Because anytime there is grief there is anger. There is always anger to some level, also there is anger from having someone snatched from you that you can’t put your finger on and you can’t expel quickly. So having someone to talk to or talking about the trauma and talking about the loss and talking about your emotions because we often do not,” Harrison said.

While we can’t run away from our grief, Harrison says a getaway can help us cope during the holidays.

“Sometimes we may need to decide to do something new; we are going to take Christmas vacations. We are not going to spend Christmas at grandma’s house; we are going to go to Gatlinburg or somewhere; we are going to do something different; we are going to spend the holidays on a boat. Sometimes you need to get away,” Harrison said.

After a loss, holidays may seem different; but, Harrison advises people to try to focus on the good things, and sometimes it helps to simplify.

“Don’t overdo it. Take time to make things as simple as you possibly can. We spend a lot of time shopping, trying to get the right gifts, and trying to make sure that everyone has something. This will be a great year, especially as we are experiencing some financial difficulties across the nation, to write letters to your loved ones, box them up nice and neat and cute let them know how you really feel. Those are beautiful things they can cherish,” Harrison said.

Harrison has a few tips to remember while processing grief during the holidays: experience what you are experiencing, don’t dismiss your feelings, be honest with yourself first, and don’t forget the individual.

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