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How parents and teenagers can cope with a loss during the holidays

At the time of this recording fall is here, which means here in the U.S. that holidays are approaching. For many people the holidays are filled with happiness and family gatherings. For some people the holidays may be filled with sadness and loss. If you have lost a parent, partner, family member, friend or a family pet, I will discuss some ways to cope with the loss.

In this episode you will learn:

  • It is healthy to share your feelings and honor the loss
  • Adults and children share and express grief differently
  • Self-care and self-compassion are important during this time of season

Ways to Cope

  • Talk to someone about what you are feeling or experiencing.
    • Some people are too uncomfortable with grief, so find someone who can listen to you.
    • If this is the first holiday without that person you may feel sad or lonely and sharing this with a trusted friend or loved one can help ease the pain.
  • Talk about what you miss about the person or what ritual you used to do together around this time.
    • Create a ritual to acknowledge the person
      • Light  a candle
      • Have a photo out during the celebrations
  • Set aside some quiet time to reflect on that person.
    • Journal, cry, spend time looking at photos or watching home movie to allow yourself to feel the sadness and move through it.
    • After your quiet time is done, go do another activity.
    • Setting aside a specific amount of time can give you permission to feel the sadness, to continue to go in and out of the pain, without feeling overwhelmed.
    • Doing another activity after that can help you believe you are more in control of your emotions vs. the emotions overwhelming you.
  • Remind yourself that family gatherings are not about perfection, but are about spending time with each other.
  • It is ok to cancel the family gathering this year too. Be gentle with yourself.
  • Adults experience grief and loss differently than children. Children are more in the present moment and my say ‘I miss Grandma”, then go off and play with other kids. It is normal and natural.

Seek professional help

  • With time the symptoms of grief should decrease.
  • If your feelings intensify, you are withdrawing from others, struggling with depression and it has been several months since the death, it maybe time to seek professional help.

Planning and preparing yourself

  • What are you going to do to give yourself permission to have compassion for yourself and/or your children?
  • Think of some ways now that can help you feel more prepared for the holidays.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” by Washington Irving

Book recommendations (some maybe affiliates):

On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

The Wheel of Life by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Todd Gold

Contact Nicole if you are in Indiana or the Indianapolis area and seeking professional help. www.LaunchingYourDaughter.com

Other Local Indianapolis Resources:

Brooke’s Place

St. Vincent Support Groups

Grief Share Website with various support groups and locations

IU Health Support Groups