By Tyra L. Goodman
Bereavement Counselor and Clinical Social Worker, CarePartners
The death of a loved one can cause tremendous grief, and the holidays often compound the experience of loss to an overwhelming feeling.
Grief can have you feeling confused, mindless, overwhelmed, anxious, alone, fatigued, unmotivated, numb, moody, clumsy and restless. You might feel angry, or shocked, or relieved. You might feel that you are not the same person any more, and that those roles that have defined you in the world as a partner, a friend, a child, a parent, a sibling or loved one don’t look or feel the same. The parts of yourself that have been familiar to you and your family and friends – like your friendliness, your sarcasm, optimism, sense of humor, thoughtfulness, reasonable mind – don’t work so well anymore, and that can have you feeling completely crazy.
Here’s the good news: just because you feel crazy does not mean that you are, and, more significantly, you are not alone. You are normal in the world of grief and grievers.
The holiday season is here, and with it there are grievers everywhere who are also having many of these feelings. Dealing with loss can be especially hard around this time of year. A griever is already feeling the full weight of missing their loved one, and then the holidays approach, making the feelings of loss even stronger, and, at the very same time, the griever is faced with negotiating the world of holiday music, shopping, gatherings and general enthusiastic cheer. This can be a really hard time for grievers of any age.
During the holidays, grievers often feel especially alone in the middle of a crowd. In fact, the griever can feel lonelier in a gathering than in the comfort of his or her own home. It’s not that the griever is generally a lonely person; it is that the griever is lonely for the particular person who has died.
Support to the griever can help ease some small measure of this great pain. Individual counseling, grief education classes, specialized support groups or workshops give the griever an opportunity to feel a little less crazy, and a little more “normal” in the process of mourning.