Revisiting Grief During the Holidays by Dr. Ee’a Jones ~ December 2019
A couple of years ago I wrote about grief and loss during the holidays. It is still a major ordeal for people around the world. The holidays bring about gatherings with family, friends, coworkers, and others. There’s Christmas cheer in the air and, generally, an overall sense of family and closeness held by lots of people. I’d like to revisit the stages of denial presented by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross back in 1969. She wrote about them in her book, On Death and Dying (1969).
The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and acceptance. The following was presented in Grief and Loss During the Holidays (Jones, 2017):
In the Denial stage, the person denies that death, or terminal diagnosis, is actually real. Anger comes as a result of frustration about why it it happening, or has happened. When a person is in the Bargaining stage, he or she may ask/bargain with God, stating if you bring the person back, I’ll do this or that. Depression develops and the person may become less talkative and more closed off from others. In the Acceptance stage, the person becomes more tolerant of the idea of the possibility of death, or that the death has already occurred. There is no set pattern of the stages; they can occur in any order other than listed here. A person may or may not experience any of these stages. They are a guide to help a person put a name to some of the emotions they may experience during the grieving process.
In her book, On Grief and Dying (2007), Dr. Ross states that grief has the power to heal. It can be a long, sad journey, but grief propels us to think about, not avoid, our pain associated with grief. It’s not that we “get over it”, but find a resolve to go on with our lives even though we have lost someone dear to us. I have heard people say they do not know how they will go on. But somehow they find a way to do just that. Faith plays a significant role for many people in how they handle grief as well.
The holidays are such a joyous occasion for many of us but keep in mind, it can be a source of sadness for those that have lost his or her loved ones. There are some tips I’d like to share for helping with these issues.
- Make time to remember your loved ones.
- Special shirts made in commemoration of your loved one
- Make the favorite meal of the loved one
- Go to the favorite place of the loved one
- Donate to a charity in honor of your loved one.
- Write a letter to your loved one to vent your current feelings about them. Current and past feelings are appropriate to express.
- Talk to other friends of the deceased loved one. It is likely they share some of your same feelings.
- If you know someone else is grieving, reach out to them to see how you can support them through it.
- Be respectful if the person does not want to talk about it. Let them know you’re there when needed.
- Know that it’s okay to say to others if your feelings are too overwhelming to participate in certain activities.
- Be mindful not to isolate yourself regularly but it is okay to say no at times.
Grief and Loss During the Holidays. (d2017). Retrieved November 1, 2017 from https://sinceremediapro.com/grief-and-loss-during-the-holidays-by-dr-eea-jones-november-1-2017/
Kubler-Ross, E. & Kessler, D. (1969). On death and dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. Scribner: New York.
Kubler-Ross, E. & Kessler, D. (2007). On grief and grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss. Scribner: New York.