The holiday season is a particularly difficult time for families still grieving the loss of loved ones.
Whether the death was sudden or expected, recent or years ago, an immediate family member or a friend, clinicians from Menninger’s Outpatient Services Clinic in Bellaire, Texas, say that grieving is a process and differs from person to person.
“Grief is felt differently by everyone and it’s futile to think that you should be able to just get over losing someone who was a significant part of your life,” said John J. O’Neill, EdD, LCSW, LCDC, CAS, the clinical director of Menninger’s Outpatient Services Clinic, Bellaire. “It’s important to recognize the stages of grief, identify emotions and accept feelings of sadness and depression.”
The five stages of grief that most people experience after the death of a loved one are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. While everyone may not experience all five stages or even go through them in the same order, these concepts have been shown to be very effective in the healing process.
“The stages are not definitive. For instance, in the acceptance stage you’ve accepted the fact that the loss is real and permanent, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll no longer have emotions about the death. You’re now learning how to manage those emotions in a healthy way,” said O’Neill.
O’Neill gives five tips for managing emotions related to grief during the holiday season:
“In addition to these tips, reach out to a therapist, counselor or other mental health professional for extra support and help during this difficult time,” said Angela Koreth, MS, LPC-S, program manager of Menninger’s Outpatient Services Clinic, Bellaire. “There are a variety of therapeutic interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy that have helped people overcome grief.”