MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The holidays can be seen as a time to get together with family members and enjoy each other’s company but, for those who have lost a family member, the holidays can bring up a lot of stress and emotions.
To help some of their clients grieve, WV Caring gave out more than 200 memorial boxes. Caregivers received a flameless candle, a memory token, a poem titled “Miss Me – But Let Me Go” and a nine-step guide to process loss.
“We’ve all lost someone … those losses have an impact on our physical and emotional health,” WV Caring Bereavement coordinator Sam Leizear said.
Everyone grieves differently, and Leizear said you should be very clear with those around you about what feels right to do in terms of celebrations and attending events in the holiday season after a loss.
“Grief is the price of love. None of us is immune from it and while a lot of people try to stay very, very busy after the loss of someone, it catches up with them. Grief is a huge emotion, and it comes out in many ways,” Leizear said.
A practical guide for grieving during the holidays:
- Step 1 – Make a list of the people you might want (or need) to discuss the holidays with.
- Step 2 – Examine your list and decide who should be involved in planning for the upcoming holidays. For example, if your immediate family will spend the day together, they should all be involved.
- Step 3 – Identify your holiday values.
- Step 4 – Decide what to do about tradition.
- Step 5 – Discuss new roles and responsibilities.
- Step 6 – Communicate with children effected by the loss.
- Step 7 – Plan to take care of yourself during the holidays.
- Step 8 – Finalize your plan.
- Step 9 – Find way to incorporate our loved one throughout the holidays.
Leizear added that if people who are grieving don’t get their emotions out, it could lead to stress and, in some cases, stress can lead to health problems.
“Grieving is not optional after you lose someone. We can cover it and we can be strong for everyone else but if we don’t express it, it builds up and comes out in other ways,” Leizear said. “Whether it’s through tears … I tell someone people if you need to go in the woods and scream, go for it. Whatever works for them.”