Handling grief through the holiday season

West Virginia

Barlett Funeral Home in Grafton (WBOY Image)

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – Many families this year will be getting together to celebrate another holiday. But, some families across north central West Virginia, the state, and the country will have one person or even a few people not joining them for the holidays this year.

Reporter and Anchor Harley Benda is no exception to that either—as her dad passed away eight days after Christmas at the beginning of 2021.

12 News talked to grief counselor and Davis and Elkins psychology professor Kimberly Morgan on some tips to getting through the holidays when someone has passed away.

Kimberly Morgan, a professor of psychology at Davis and Elkins and a grief counselor, shares tips on how to handle the holidays while grieving. (WBOY Image)

Her first tip: spend your holidays how you want to.

“Basically cutting out the holiday. You may not want to do holiday traditions at all. You may want to modify them. You may want to keep them exactly the same. There’s no wrong way to have holidays after a loss,” said Morgan.

Some of the deaths around the state can be attributed to COVID-19, and Morgan said that sudden losses like that can create shock and denial.

“What that brings with it is just a shock and denial. It does not feel real. It feels like they should still be walking through the door,” said Morgan.

Another thing Morgan wants to remind families about is letting loved ones talk about their stories and memories with those who have passed.

A casket is covered in red roses. (WBOY Image)

“One thing that they do is they come in and usually, the first few sessions, they just talk about the illness. And usually, at the end, they’ll talk then death, and they’ll process those feelings. And then the next time they come in, or that I go to their home, they do the same thing. But that’s okay. They need to tell that story,” said Morgan.

And sometimes, you just need someone to be there—or for you to be that someone.

“Being there for the people that have lost loved ones and acknowledging those ‘wow, that was so sudden’ and just allowing them or just being with them,” said Morgan.

There are some other symptoms of grieving that you may not have even thought about.

“Often with grief, we feel as though we have Alzheimer’s. And with that, I mean, you get really forgetful,” said Morgan.

If you are grieving the loss of someone this holiday season, be kind to yourself—and enjoy the holidays how you would like to.

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