The holidays are a difficult time for many people, especially for those who are alone, are grieving, or both. Our culture promotes the idea that this season is primarily for families, couples, and happy people, which leaves out more people than you may realize on first glance. Family gatherings and holiday parties are full of exuberance, energy, and the noise of many people talking at once.
Being around this level of activity, however, can be overwhelming for older family members and for those who are grieving, regardless of their age. The tendency is to leave them alone and to focus on the joy of the season and for them to be alone in their sadness. This isolation can be especially painful if they are missing loved ones who are no longer there.
You can help, by taking the initiative and giving the gift of your company. Reach out to those you know who are grieving or may be alone this year. If you invite them to a party or a family event, make sure they are not left alone but warmly welcomed and included. Better yet, spend some quality time with them one-on-one without all the hustle and bustle. Do not worry about cheering them up, fixing them, giving advice, or knowing what to say. Just being a heart with ears (no mouth) is more than enough and often is all that is needed. By a heart with ears, I mean be with them and listen with your full attention and love.
If you are alone this year and/or struggling with a loss, don’t wait. Even if it’s hard, reach out to someone you trust. Others may not realize your struggles, especially if you wear that “I’m fine” face we all do so well. Remember, there are many different types of losses, not just death and divorce, and we all grieve in our own way. There are no set rules or stages or length of time. Grief does not have to be forever. You are not alone!
One more thing: If you get a feeling that someone is in so much pain that they want to end their life, please do not be afraid to ask the question: Are you considering suicide? If they are, help them to get some place safe. The National Crisis line is 1-800-273-TALK(8255) and the Georgia Crisis Hotline is 800-715-4225. The Armed Forces Mission provides a list of warning signs as well as a list of helpful resources for veterans and for the public. If you have lost someone to suicide and would like to connect with others who share this loss, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides a list of support groups nationwide, including the Atlanta area.
I also am here for you. As a certified grief recovery specialist, I can help. Please reach out!
As Diana Ross encouraged us nearly 50 years ago: “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand. Make this world a better place if you can!”
The Grief Recovery Method® is a transformative program that provides a safe, confidential opportunity to gain a better understanding of grief and the myths and misinformation our society perpetuates about grief and the grieving process. It also teaches specific action steps to say goodbye to the pain and heartache caused by loss. By doing so, you will be able to move on and be happy once again. The Grief Recovery Method® is not therapy, but an educational program. It is available in an eight-week grief support group or a seven-week one-on-one format.
BJ Spanos, CGRS
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