Coping with Grief and Bereavement this festive season

Categories: Education.

It is another season of merry making after a long year of hard work for us as we struggle to make a living.

During the festive season, everybody is geared towards meeting family and friends and have sometime together.

But what happens when a family loses a loved one during this festive season?

Florence Omoroh and Lynnette John, palliative carers at Homa Bay District Hospital, indicate that when grief crops up during this season, the affected are shocked and the merry-making turns into a period of bereavement.

“All plans are altered and interfered with. The family coping process during this bereavement period depends on who has died.” They say.

According to the carers, the process of dealing with this loss may be short or long term depending on the person’s age, position in the family and the contribution of the departed to the family.

This holiday season the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) has published some advice to help those who are grieving to cope with the situation at hand.

The holiday season is a time for loved ones and families to come together and celebrate. It can also however be a time that brings back painful memories of loss and bereavement. To help those who have suffered loss or bereavement APCA has published some basic advice.

Advice on dealing with grief, loss and bereavement this holiday season:

Grief can start before someone dies: Just like palliative care, grief can start as soon as a loved one is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. It is important to give yourself time and space to experience this grief rather than trying to “appear strong” for your loved one.

Seek and accept support: You need the support and care of others. Call on a trusted family member or friend, church clergy, hospice worker or professional counselor. There is no shame in asking for help during the seasonal holidays.

Stop comparisons: Try not to compare your situation to previous holidays – it won’t be the same. Equally, seeing other families together and enjoying the festivities may make you feel down. Keep in mind that the holidays are stressful for most families and are rarely the magical gatherings that people like to think of them as. Try to embrace what you have rather than compare it to what you think you should have.

Offer yourself some space and grace: Make sure you give yourself some space to grieve. If you need to allow some time to be sad before heading out to meet friends and family. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is your feeling.

Expect the unexpected: The holiday season is filled with traditions. Be mindful that some of these traditions will have to change with the loss of a loved one. Be optimistic though, you have the power to decide how things change.

In addition to this advice, Amy Goyer’s article on AARP indicates that we should not forget about children.

Focus on the kids: Many holidays place special attention on children, and it often helps to focus on their needs. Realize that your choices around getting through the holidays may affect the children in your family. If you withdraw, they may not understand why you don’t want to join family festivities. Perhaps you can participate in the family rituals or gatherings that are most important to the kids, and excuse yourself when you reach your limit.

She further advices in her article;

Accept your feelings — whatever they might be: Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be bathed in tears. Some feel bad that they aren’t up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are feeling joy. However you feel, accept it. And accept the inevitable ups and downs: You may feel peaceful one moment and gut-wrenchingly sad the next. Try to stay in tune with your own highest truth and you will know how to get through the holiday without judging yourself or others.

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