Holidays can be difficult for those who are grieving

(PUEBLO, COLO.) It is never easy to lose a loved one, and the grief and pain that follows a person’s death is a natural part of life.

Grief also doesn’t take time off for the holidays. The sadness oftentimes is magnified, even as others celebrate and enjoy the occasion. The absence of that loved one or friend becomes even more apparent.

“Holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, those are the times that are really tough because it’s about coming together, celebrating and all of that. So, when that individual is no longer here, it becomes very difficult, and people just don’t know what to do during the holiday season,” said Deacon Marco Vegas, manager of Mission and Pastoral Care for Centura-Health St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center.

There are no simple ways to help make the hurt go away, but there are steps people can take to better cope with grief during a joyful, but painful, time.

Vegas offers these suggestions:

  • Don’t be afraid to express your feelings of grief.
  • Surround yourself with friends and relatives who will listen without judging.
  • Be tolerant of and respect your physical and psychological limits while you grieve.
  • Eliminate unnecessary stress.
  • Avoid isolating yourself, but also recognize that you need some time for yourself.

“Grief is an internal thing. Grief is when we hear about it, we keep it to ourselves. We just process it inside,” Vegas said. “Mourning is taking what’s inside and turning it outside. And that’s what we want to do, but we don’t do that.”

Family and friends who encourage those grieving to move on with their lives and to keep busy mean well, but they don’t help the situation, Vegas said.

“They try to help by saying these different things, but what that does is it just kind of suppresses and pushes these things to the back,” he said.

Vegas also has the following tips for how family and friends can help those grieving around the holidays:

  • Be a good listener and don’t be judgmental.
  • Respect your grieving friend or family member’s physical and psychological limits.
  • Let them know that it’s OK to be sad and grieve.
  • Be a good companion for them.

“Let them know it’s OK to cry,” Vegas said. “Crying is a good thing. It’s a positive thing. We view it as a negative thing, but the reality of it is crying and tears are good things. It’s a positive expression of what you’re feeling.”

St. Mary-Corwin’s Grief and Loss Support Program supports individuals as they attempt to cope with personal phases of loss, offering a 12-week grief, loss and life transition support group multiple times a year. The program costs $25, and the next session is expected to start in either March or April, with exact dates not yet determined.

Vegas and co-facilitator Jan Sciortino, both of whom have been trained and received certification from Alan Wolfelt, PhD, a nationally recognized author, educator and grief counselor, lead the program. They focus on Wolfelt’s idea of “companioning,” where individuals journey together, rather than the model of “treating,” which consists of pulling an individual through their grief.

The program is open to 12 members per group, and participants are expected to attend each session, as the content of each class builds onto the last. Potential members will meet with Vegas for a registration screening to determine if the program is an appropriate next step, as some may benefit more from individual counseling.

For more information and to schedule your registration screening, contact Vegas at 719.557.5246 or marcovegas@centura.org.

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About Centura Health
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 17 hospitals, two senior living communities, health neighborhoods, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life® Colorado, we are making the region’s best health care accessible and affordable in every community we serve. We believe you can inspire the people you care about to live healthier lives by encouraging them to do the little things that can make a big difference. We’re Centura Health, and we’re here for your health. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit Centura Health website.

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Brett Riggs
BrettRiggs@Centura.org
620-272-2520

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