Grief, Loss and the Holidays



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Objectives
– Identify grief, trauma and depression triggers
– Explore ways to deal with them
Trauma and Grief
– Trauma results when people feel a lack of control, disempowerment and unsafeness
– Grief is commonly associated with a sense of powerlessness over the loss of something important (people, pets, faith, ability to do what you feel you “should”)
– Grief can be traumatic
– Trauma almost always results in losses to be grieved
Grief
– Denial
– Anger
– Bargaining
– Guilt over shoulda, coulda, woulda
– You bargain with a higher power for healing or a miracle
– Depression
– Acceptance
Signs of Grief
– Physical
– Somatic complaints
– Sleep disturbance
– Appetite changes
– Restlessness
– Affective
– Irritability / Anger
– Anxiety (esp. in children)
– Depression
– Mood swings
– Cognitive
– Intrusive thoughts
– Difficulty concentrating
– Relational
– Isolation / withdrawal
– Clinginess (separation anxiety, neediness)
– Or both

What Do We Grieve
– Prior losses
– Loss of
– A person to death
– A person to empty nest
– A person to an ended relationship
– Physical health and abilities
– Routine / rituals
– A pet
– Hope and faith
– Finances / Jobs and ability to give gifts like you want
– Dreams (Hallmark & Disney)

Interventions
– Self Care for Mood, Immunity and Inflammation
– Safety
– Sleep
– Nutrition (including water)
– Sunlight
– Me Time
– Exercise
– Boundaries (no “shoulds”)– Do what you can
– Allow time for feelings
– Ask for help to avoid getting overwhelmed
– Make a Bill of Rights to prevent guilt
Interventions
– Hardiness and Present Focus
– Attitude of gratitude
– Tree ornaments/cards during Advent for what you have
– Tree ornaments/stocking cards for the person you lost
– Memory journal or celebration (I remember cards)
– Focus on what you can control
– Turn off triggering shows/ Take a media/news break
– Shop on line or ahead of time
– Start a new tradition or just get away
– Make a plan for the day and have a plan B
– Release your resentments / Loving kindness meditation

Summary
– The holidays are hard for a LOT of people
– They can bring up feelings of grief, guilt, loneliness, anger, trauma/helplessness, and depression/hopelessness
– People need to be aware of what their triggers are, what those triggers are related to and have a plan to stop them.
– Vulnerability prevention is also essential to help people have the energy and reserves to deal with unavoidable stressors.

Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

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