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Getting through the holiday while grieving


December 26, 2013
Q. I lost my spouse to cancer this past summer. I am starting to feel even worse now that the holidays are approaching. Can I have some guidance of how to get through the next few weeks?

A. While there are other critical dates and times that affect grieving people, for many the most difficult day is Christmas. This particular holiday more than any other means family is together, making the void of your loved one even more acutely aware. Listed below are some suggestions others have found helpful in coping with the holiday season. Chose the ones that will help you:


Keep it simple. Holiday tasks can seem overwhelming. Instead of cooking an elaborate meal, have your guests bring a dish, order food out or ask someone else to cook.

Accept help. Although you may have been the one to handle holiday preparations in the past, these responsibilities can become overwhelming. Let your friends and family help you, and be specific about what they can do.

Eat wisely. Although you may not have much of an appetite, good nutrition can give you more energy and improve your mood during the holidays. Visit cancercenter.com/complementary-al

ternative-medicine/nutritional-therapy.cfm for nutritional ideas.

Know your limits. You aren’t obligated to participate in every holiday activity. You may decide to decline some activities so you have energy to enjoy ones that are most important to you. Pace yourself, get plenty of rest and take time for yourself if you need it. Your loved ones will understand.

Be smart about travel. If you’re visiting relatives or friends for the holidays, plan ahead to make traveling easier and more comfortable. Consider staying at a hotel so you have more time to relax.

Share your feelings. Sharing your feelings with others can help reduce stress during the holidays. Your loved ones may not know how to approach you or what to say, so communicate with them.

Nurture your spirituality. Participation in spiritual and/or religious activities, particularly during this time of year, can be a source of peace, comfort and hope for many.

Set goals for the New Year. Your dreams and hopes for the future may be different now. You can gain perspective and a sense of control by thinking about your goals for the year ahead and the things that matter most to you. Visit cancercenter.com/complementary-al

ternative-medicine/spiri

tual-support for more information.

Discover what the holidays mean to you. Try not to dwell on what may be missing or is different about this year’s holiday season. Instead, focus on what the holidays truly mean to you, such as spending time with loved ones or being thankful.

Palen is a clinical therapist serving the Grosse Pointe and St. Clair Shores areas. She can be reached at (586) 335-2006 or at rebecca.palen@gmail.com.

The Family Center serves as the community’s hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. It is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting our youth to become competent, caring and responsible community members and has the motto enriched communities through stronger families.

All gifts are tax-deductible.

To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenter

web.org or call (313) 432-3832.

E-mail: info@family

centerweb.org or write to: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.


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