Woman in red sweater and white turtleneck holds head in hand as she sits by the fire dealing with grief
Healthy Living

Dealing with Grief During the Holidays: Part 2

Dec 18 2018

In Part 2 of our Q & A on grief, Chaplain Grogg dives deeper on this sensitive holiday topic

In Part 1 of our Q & A on grief, Chaplain David Grogg shared insights on what grief is, how it affects us, and how it changes over time. He also shared uplifting ideas for how we can make the holidays easier if we or someone we care about is grieving a loss.

In Part 2, he shares insight on honoring traditions during the holidays, supporting a loved one who is grieving, and how to get help and support when grieving.

Q: Should traditions that existed with a loved one continue to be honored after a loss?

A: A combination of yes and no. Especially if there are younger children involved, keeping traditions alive is important.

For individuals who are older, past traditions may or may not still be significant. That person may want to begin a new tradition in memory of the person that has passed, just to start something new, to celebrate that person’s life.

Or it could be a combination of both of those. Traditions are one of those things that usually carry so much meaning for families, that to give them up and stop them might make that void even larger and more painful. It’s still hard to go through a tradition that involved that loved one, but it would allow you to maybe talk through that loss as a family. It can be very therapeutic for each one who is participating.

Q: How can we approach a loved one when we know they’re grieving?

A: The big thing is: don’t avoid the elephant in the room. Everybody knows that loved one is gone. Don’t avoid talking about that loss and that absence.

And respecting where they’re at is important. Not saying “you should be further along…you should be over it.” I don’t think we ever “get over” the grief of a loss. We need to just journey alongside with them wherever they might be. And if they feel like talking, to be there to listen and not fix things, and just allow them to express what’s going on inside of them.

The beautiful thing being in a faith-based facility like we are with Bon Secours Mercy Health is that we can express the idea that God sees our pain and feels the pain that we feel. He cares about it, He understands it. The picture is that God sees us at our weakest point and He cares when we hurt. And if we can share that concept of God for those who are believers, it’s very powerful.

Q: What if someone doesn’t know where to turn but needs help? 

A: Some people are living life completely alone…for those who are. Hopefully there would be a friend or family member who would come alongside them and maybe do an intervention and just allow them to know there’s someone who truly does care. Give them a chance to cry, to talk, or just again to be silent in their presence and let them know it’s okay to feel the way that is being felt.

The bottom line: as much as possible, to keep that door open and make sure it doesn’t get closed and locked. And more than anything else, this is not an easy thing to do but try to put yourself in their place.

Q: As far as getting connected, if someone has no one and feels like they need help or can’t go on, are there services at all Bon Secours Mercy Health to help? 

A: Absolutely. Like our Chaplain services — they’re always available if someone needs help.

There are also avenues in the community like GriefShare that people can plug into for community support for people suffering similar types of losses to what the individual is going through. Many funeral homes provide various types of support groups. Even AARP has various resources and support groups. Hospice, palliative care through our system, they have support available, cancer center, there are a lot of avenues that we could present to people to plug into. I know for us, we give a bereavement packet either at time of loss or we’ll place them in mail and that has available resources.

If someone needs help, even a family member or friend intervening saying “I’m willing to take you to this place if you’re willing to go and get some support.” can be all a person needs to get started.

It’s our hope that your holiday season is full of joy, but when you need a little extra support, we’re here for you. To get connected with a Chaplain, reach out to your local hospital.

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