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Coping with Grief and Loss Over the Holidays

For many of us, the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” But if you’ve recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a time of grief and emotional turmoil. Whether you’ve experienced loss personally, or know someone who has, it’s important to be aware of the impact grief has on your wellbeing and how to manage it in order to safely navigate through the holiday season.

Symptoms of grief, such as depression and sleep disturbances, can cause numerous health problems when left untreated. According to Harvard Health Publishing, ignoring symptoms of grief such as stress can put you at greater risk for a heart attack, stroke, and even death.

Kaitlyn Wenke, Social Worker at HomeCare & Hospice, provides some useful tips for dealing with loss and grief this time of year. “It’s important to spend time with supportive loves ones and not isolate yourself. It is also valuable to address your emotions. It is okay to feel sad, made, or any other way that you feel. Suppressing your feelings won’t make them go away. In fact, not addressing your feelings could even make them worse. If you’ve faced a loss in the past, consider the coping mechanisms that you used. Did you have a healthy way of coping that was effective? Find ways to cope such as walking outside, talking to a close loved one, seeking counseling, or trying out meditation.”

The social workers at HomeCare & Hospice provide supporting information regarding grief during the holidays, which Wenke says have proven extremely helpful for families who’ve experienced recent loss. She continued to explain her observation that those with a strong faith tend to manage the grieving process more easily. Since many people look to their faith during difficult times, HomeCare & Hospice offers Spiritual Care to patients and their families.

Wenke also described how many people assume the grieving process is straightforward until they experience it themselves. “The grieving process is messy; everyone experiences it differently. You might backtrack to a step you’ve already been through, and that’s okay.”

HomeCare & Hospice, a non-profit United Way agency, provides specialized medical care and social/emotional support for patients and families coping with life-limiting illness in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Genesee and Wyoming counties. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more information and to connect with HomeCare & Hospice, please call 1-800-719-7129 or visit www.homecare-hospice.org.

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