December 29, 2020

By: Jamise Kafoure; Counselor

The end of each year inevitably marks a significant “shift” in conversations when counseling clients. I often hear fear, ambivalence, depression, anxiety, dread, and angst expressed within our conversations, as these emotions directly relate to the upcoming holidays. The central theme of these discussions is either “loss” or “change” of some type.

Grief and loss can knock our legs out from under us when we least expect it.  These feelings can come from the death of a loved one, change of a relationship, or fear due to loss of job/income and how to provide for our families.  These feelings can also come from the separation of family members who live far away, or simply the inability to cope with the media and all the hype surrounding this “joyful” time.   Unfortunately, there is no “normal” or simple formula that helps one manage their feelings of grief and loss.

The “memories” of past holidays can be daunting as the “reality” of the present is overwhelming.  So…how does one cope with the constant reminders that the holidays are quickly approaching when it only feels natural to hide under a blanket and avoid interaction with others?

  1. Stop/Breathe/Proceed. Take one day at a time and have patience with yourself.  Try downloading and using a free app like Headspace that teaches meditation.
  2. Remind yourself that the holidays have a beginning, middle, and END😊
  3. Practice positive affirmations and self-talk. For example, say the Serenity Prayer daily or download the free app “Thinkup”.
  4. Don’t get too attached to any particular thought on any given day.  Keep an open mind and healthy expectations for the holiday season.
  5. Tell yourself: “It’s OK to feel a range of emotions and I may not be happy all day every day”.
  6. Acquaint yourself with the Five Stages of Grief/Loss by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
  7. Let loved ones know that “this” year will be “different”. Be creative and start new traditions.
  8. Find a “safe” place/person with whom to share your thoughts and feelings.Contact Families First.

(On a personal note…It’s been 32 years since my mother’s passing, and every Thanksgiving (her favorite holiday) brings feelings of loss and joy. To honor and remember her, my siblings and I begin our festivities with a turkey neck “toast” to her…reliving our favorite holiday memory… sampling the turkey before dinner.)