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Navigating Through Grief

Nikki (Lanzo) Gonazales

Rear view of lonely man looking with hope at horizon with sunlight during sunset with effect of light at the end of tunnelThe Holidays are here, in the midst of the hustle sometimes we need to stop and reflect on all the emotions stirring within us. As we focus on hanging the stockings with care and finding the perfect gift for our loved ones, we might need to gift ourselves a little self-care. The holiday season often times draws out various emotions and memories for each of us. Even in the midst of a season with so much joy, giving, and love. For some it can amplify other emotions inside of us like sadness, loneliness, stress, and loss to name a few.

Grief is not just caused by death, it could vary from death, to loosing a job, divorce, a relationship, a move, or various other losses. For me the holidays make me miss my Nanny (Grandmother) more than any other time of the year. I have so many fond memories of her during this time, that often I am overwhelmed with a wave a grief in an unexpected moment (like hanging an ornament on my tree). For each of us it looks different. Sometimes it can be a small wave and sometimes it can be so giant it overwhelms and produces more emotions that follow.

Navigating this in the midst of the holidays can be complicated. We have so many other things going on, it is hard to offer ourselves self-care. However, it is so important. Often what we don’t process emotional and mentally becomes physically manifested in our bodies (remember that stomach ache, or that lower back pain, or that headache).  Sometimes we even forget that on this day 5 years ago something happened. However our bodies seem to remember it, because you woke up today feeling sad and you did not know why.

Maybe it is not you, but someone you love that is going through a loss during the holidays. We need to offer extra support if we are capable of that during this time. Some signs to look for in adults and children are below.

In Adults things that might occur:

  • Tears
  • Unexpected Crying
  • Strong Feelings about things you normally would not think were a big deal
  • Irritability
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Talking about the person/thing that you loss
  • Social Isolation (withdrawing from regular activities)
  • Eating/ Sleeping Too Much or Too Little

In Children things that might occur:

  • Same Symptoms as above
  • Non-Compliance
  • Behavior Issues (Acting Out)
  • Social Isolation
  • Ask Lots/No Questions

** remember with children it may look different than adults, sometimes the same symptoms may occur and sometimes it will not.**

How to Gift yourself with Self Care:

Allow Time and Space

Remember self-care is nurturing yourself. This is a very personal experience.  What makes you feel rested? Is it baking, bubble baths, a walk outside, nature, reading, journaling, art, praying, music.

Again… Allow Time and Space

For me I like to light an aromatherapy candle, Spotify vitamin string quartet, and turn off the lights and take a warm shower/bath. I don’t allow myself to think. I just focus on the smell, how the warm water feels on my skin, and the sounds of the instrumental music. When a thought comes I imagine it as a floating cloud. This can be 10 minutes, and it brings restoration.

Surround yourself with people who are capable of supporting you during this time.

Having coffee with a friend, with modern technology we can have coffee with a friend who is many hours away. Scheduling this even if for thirty minutes can bring some cheer to your day.

Seek out people who have had similar experiences

Accept that this season will be different, that you might not understand, and that its hard. That you might need to ask for help. Acceptance brings freedom.

Allow the light to come in, and embrace that moments of joy.

How do you talk about your loss and redefine your life after loss. Loss is different for each person, but processing that with someone can be so helpful. For Children art and play therapy are great outlets for processing a loss. Group therapy is also very beneficial for both adult and children. If you or someone you love needs someone to process with. The Summit is a great place for you to start. We offer a variety of groups, individual counseling, family counseling and for your children and adolescence we have play therapist.

 

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