When we lose a loved one, whether it’s from death or break-up, we go through a grieving process. While that process normally runs its course over time, memories and feelings of loss can be dredged up and magnified during the holiday period. After all, we usually spend the holidays with loved ones, so their absence is felt moreso in those seasons.
A lot of factors can influence how much grief is reborn within us. They include the length of time since the person has left us, the intensity of the relationship and the history of special activities that are associated especially with that person. Remember, grief never really disappears; it makes our lives different. We can’t erase a loss, but we can grow from it.
During the holiday season, take time to evaluate how your grief has affected you. Have you adjusted? Is it positive? Can you acknowledge our loss and move forward? Or is it all-consuming? Does it remain the focal point of your life?
Grief gets different over time, not necessarily easier. Positive outcomes of grief include personal growth, like discovering inner strengths that we may not realize we had. With our loss comes a type of freedom—freedom to pursue something new, like developing a talent or traveling to places we’ve dreamed of, or making new friends.
If we’re not at this point in the process, though, we must ask ourselves if our grief has gotten destructive. Unresolved grief exceeds normal grief not only in duration, but also in severity. Symptoms include the following:
- Health upsets like lethargy, muscle weakness, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath
- Mental confusion and hallucinations
- Sleep distractions
- Eating pattern changes to either extreme: binging or loss of appetite
- Tending toward accidents
- Outbursts of anger and withdrawal from social interaction
- Feelings of loneliness, despair, depression or even thoughts of suicide
These physical changes can carry hurtful outcomes that harm us to the point of interrupting our daily normal lives.
If this description fits your own life or the life of someone you care about, be alarmed and seek help. Grief counseling is aimed at helping people go through the stages of grief with a caring, guiding hand. Goals include acceptance of the loss, living the pain in a non-harmful way, creating a new environment that incorporates your life’s changes, channeling energies to positive outcomes, learning how to say goodbye in a loving, respectful manner, and moving forward while taking cherished memories along with you.
Don’t be surprised when feelings of loss are aroused during the holiday season, but use them to evaluate your progress through the steps of grieving…and if you need help, please reach out to Tracy Crain.