Odessa, TEXAS (Big 2/Fox 24) – The death of a loved one is tragic, and losing somebody during the pandemic has its own set of challenges. Melanie Saiz and Kristi Edwards from Centers for Children and Families explain how to cope while dealing with grief during the holidays.
” You’ve got to get rid of all of the expectations that you might have had. This is a new year. Everything is different. You have to give yourself loss of grace. Remember that grief comes in waves and can be immobilizing at times. Let yourself stop and feel the emotions. So many of the times, we step those down because we’re in Target or we’re with people and we don’t want to let that happen. So the best thing you can do is just excuse yourself, get to your car somewhere. Or be with somebody that you trust and just say,” I’m sorry. I can feel this coming on, I’m going to be crying, so please hold my hand,’ “says Centers Executive Director Kristi Edwards.
Edwards explains that grief can come in waves and feel immobilizing sometimes. She encourages those hurting to stop and feel their emotions. If you need to cancel plans, Edwards says do what’s best for you. If you need to scale back on decorations or gifts, that’s okay, too. On the other hand, if you feel better keeping Christmas traditions in your house to feel purpose and joy, then do it. Smiling can be good in tough times. Another way to try and grieve this time of year is to learn how to express yourself.
” Friends and family don’t always know exactly what to say or do at this time. When someone is grieving, it feels like they don’t want to say the wrong thing or they just don’t know exactly how to help. So this is a great time to speak up and say, ‘ You know, I could really use some help with wrapping some presents.’ Or maybe you can offer- ask someone help you put lights up on the tree. Or just be that weekly phone call that they need to sit and vent. Just answering the question, that people ask, ‘What can I do for you?’ because so many of us are inclined to say, ‘Oh I’m fine. I’ll let you know.’ But seriously let them know. It helps both people with that process,” says Centers Marketing and Development Director Melanie Saiz.
Saiz and Edwards say friends and family can give you support, and you may also find comfort in talking to people who are grieving similar experiences to give you a sense of being understood. It may also help to create new traditions for the holidays that can help to keep the memory of your loved one alive.
” Finding a special ornament that represents a loved one can help everybody to have something visual and tangible just to include that loved one in your Christmas. Watching Christmas movies that they enjoyed can be a treasured tradition as well. And sharing stories around the fire or around the Christmas tree about this loved one, just to make sure that everyone is still recognizing this person that has meant so much to everyone’s lives,” says Saiz.
For those who are friends or family of the person in grief, Saiz and Edwards recommend choosing your words carefully when trying to comfort the person you care about. Sometimes what others say can be unintentionally hurtful. It can be helpful to just let your loved one know you are available to listen. Saiz and Edwards also want to remind friends and family that there can be a strong need in the heart of the grieving person to hold on to their loved one’s memory by keeping items of the person they’re missing, or posting on social media. Both encourage you to let the person grieving do what they need to do to find some peace.
You can reach out to Centers if you, or someone you know, is struggling with grief this Christmas.