Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza and New Year’s Day are annual holidays that can be a very difficult time for people who have experienced the death of a loved one.  Memories of good times and togetherness at the holiday season serve to remind us of our loss. Watching others who are feeling thankful and are celebrating when we feel overwhelmed, lonely or sad can be very painful. Holidays force us to realize how much our lives have been changed by the loss of our loved one. Particularly in the first year, many bereaved are left with having to develop new holiday rituals and traditions.

The first step in coping with grief at the holidays is to acknowledge that the first holiday season is difficult and then to prepare for it in advance by making specific plans and obtaining the support that you need. Remember too, that sometimes anticipation of a holiday can be more difficult than the day itself.

Hospice of Orange and Sullivan Counties provides supportive bereavement services and grief counseling for anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one. Groups meet in various locations in Orange and Sullivan Counties and are free of charge to anyone in the community, regardless of whether the loved one was on hospice care or not.  Adult Support Groups are offered through a Grief Themed Curriculum that runs on a six-month rotation. New members may join at any time and continue as needed. If interested in joining a support group, please call our Bereavement Social Worker, Sharon Pluskalowski for a phone intake at 845-561-6111.

3 C’s to Cope with the Holidays

Choose.   During the holidays it is easy to drift into activities that increase our pain. But we do have choices. We can decide what activities we wish to participate in, who we want to be with and what we want to do.

Communicate.  It is important that we discuss our choices with others, especially those who are affected by them. They have needs as well. Their ways of dealing with grief may be different.

Compromise.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve. When we communicate, we may find that our feelings and needs and the very ways that we cope, will differ. We need to find space for compromise.