DENVER — The holiday season isn’t always happy for everyone. While gathering with friends or family can be a joyful time, sometimes the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, or a career setback can make the season anything but jolly.
Professor Heather Coats from the University of Colorado College of Nursing said you shouldn't be afraid of having grief. She said if the grief is impacting things you do in your daily life, then you may want to consider professional help from the resources below. But she said if it's not impacting your day-to-day life, just feelings of sadness or memories that are resurfacing during the holidays, there are simple coping strategies that may be able to help get you through the next few weeks.
"For me, it's getting out in nature, that really helps me," Coats said. "So, find the things that bring you joy in this season of the holidays, or anytime, and bring those things into your life as much as you can to help you with your own grief and loss."
There are things friends and loved ones can do to help those they know who are coping with grief during the holidays. Professor Coats said the key is not to tell someone they will get over their grief, but rather just be with them.
"Everyone grieves in their own time process. You know, you may have good days, you may have bad days," she said. "So when you're supporting others, definitely make sure that you are just being there for them. Maybe it's running errands for them. I mean, those things that we don't necessarily think of because we want to help everybody to get over their grief. And sometimes it's a process and we just need to go through it."
Professor Coats and Professor Kerry Peterson both provided their expertise on dealing with grief and prolonged grief disorder in a Five to Thrive podcast back in September. You can listen to it here.
There are many resources available for people in need, including the Colorado Crisis Line that can be reached by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting TALK to 38255. You can also visit their website, ColoradoCrisisServices.org) to find walk-in services across the state.
The national crisis lifeline is also a good resource that can be reached by simply dialing 988. You can also visit them online at 988lifeline.org.
Professor also recommends the following general resources for people dealing with grief during the holidays or any time of year:
- American Psychological Association grief page has resources, podcasts, books and articles on grief.
- Center for Disease Control page on grief related to COVID-19 explains how to care for yourself, coping with stress, helping children cope
- AARP: Dealing with the Grief during the Holidays website provides nine things to help get you through the holidays
The following resources are available specifically for people going through grief or loss involving hospice and palliative care.
- CaringInfo website: Program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization that has online resources, education of types of grief and loss, understanding grief and loss, and supporting a grieving caregiver or friend
- Institute for Healthcare Improvement: The Conversation Project provides five ways to deal with grief during the holidays