Managing grief and loss can be very overwhelming and isolating at any time of the year, not to mention during the holidays. Whether you have just recently lost someone and this will be your first holiday season without your loved one, or your 10th, it can be extremely difficult maintain the happiness and gratitude that pressure us all during this time.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to grief at the holidays according to Amy Morin over on Psychology Today.
- Trust that grief is a part of the healing
- Set healthy boundaries
- Focus on what you can control
- Plan ahead
- Allow yourself to feel a range of emotions
- Create new traditions
- Do something kind for others
- Ask for help
Grief is never something that you will “get over”, and understanding that will help aide in the process. It often comes in waves, and the holiday season can sometimes be a more difficult wave. As the holidays tend to be about spending time with family and loved ones, it can always be a reminder that you are missing that special someone.
It’s okay to feel sad or mad during this time. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be happy and grateful every second of the day. Allowing yourself to feel the emotions that come up will help to eliminate the guilt and pressure that we often put on ourselves to “get through” something.
A lot of people find that doing something for someone else, like volunteering, or buying gifts for those in need can help fill a void they might be feeling during the season. This can help you feel like you are doing something positive with your time, honoring your loved one, and creating an atmosphere of gratitude with are all great ways to heal.
Dr. Melissa Estavillo talks about this topic in the video below:
Know that you are not alone in your grief. Many other people are also going through something similar during this time. There are often support groups in your area, and if you’re here in the Phoenix, Arizona area please don’t hesitate to call us to set up an appointment with one of our wonderful grief therapists.
We’ve all seen the Charlie Brown Christmas, or are at least familiar with the famous cartoon characters. Here is a nice video on how to cope with depression this holiday season, according to Charlie Brown himself!
September is Suicide Awareness month, and our blog has been focusing on the subject. There can be such a stigma around suicide, that we want to encourage people to talk about their mental health and their struggles. When we talk about suicide, it can give us a better understanding of how to prevent it. And how to help those who might be hurting.
Today we want to explain the difference between passive suicide ideation and active suicide ideation. The difference can be thought to be very simple, but often time we know it can be much more complex than we think.
Passive Suicide Ideation is when you have thoughts of suicide or self harm but no plan to carry it out.
Active Suicide Ideation is when you have thoughts of suicide or self harm, and have developed a plan to carry it out.
Sometimes we think that there are no signs that can help us recognize when someone has formulated a plan to carry out suicide. Often times it can be a private topic or feeling, that people will keep to themselves. But other times, there can be warning signs that we can look out for. According to an article on a website called Better Help, there are a few signs and symptoms to look out for pertaining to suicide ideation. They break them down into three categories, behavioral, physical, and psychosocial.
- Giving away possessions
- Talking about death, dying, or not being around in the future
- Using phrases that make death sound like an option such as “When I am gone,” “If I were to kill myself…”
- Saying goodbye or making amends with loved ones
- Collecting items that are harmful or potentially dangerous
- Social withdraw
- Increased drug or alcohol usage
- Not participating in activities that were once enjoyable
- Engaging in risky or potentially harmful behaviors
- Scars from past attempts at suicide or self-harm
- Drastic or sudden change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Chronic illness
- Cognitive Symptoms:
- Obsessing over the belief that the only end to emotional pain is through death or suicide
- Feeling Helpless or Hopeless
- Feeling that emotional pain is never ending
- Self-hatred/ self-loathing
- Emotional pain
- Frequent or drastic mood swings
- Sudden changes in personality or behavior
- Intense anxiety and increased irritability
We at Biltmore Psychology and Counseling encourage you to seek help if you or a loved one are having any type of suicide ideation. The benefits of therapy can be of utmost importance when someone is feeling hopeless. We take a very supportive, caring, and individualistic approach to treating our clients when they are struggling. And there are many wonderful therapists, counselors, Psychiatrists, and Psychologists out there who do the same.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
At some point in our lives, we will lose someone we love. Grief can be a very complicated and heavy thing, that doesn’t necessarily go away but definitely gets easier. Everyone grieves differently, and there is no perfect way to deal with losing someone you love.
When you lose someone to suicide, the grieving process can be quite different. There is often shock, sadness, guilt, and anger tied to the loss. While the process can be different for the person experiencing the grief, it can also be perceived as different from the outside. Often when you lose someone to old age, an accident, or a terminal illness, the loss gains sympathy and compassion.
However sometimes when you lose someone to suicide, there can sometimes be judgement and blame from the outside. This is why the grief can be so different when suicide is involved. Not only is the loved one blaming themselves, the people around them can sometimes put that blame on them as well.
Focusing on the happier times with your loved one is part of grieving. Thinking back on fond memories, and talking about the more positive times can help encourage acceptance and fill the void of loss. However with suicide, the memories can be clouded with anger and sadness. When you don’t understand why your loved one took their own life, positive memories can be harder to remember than negative ones.
According to Deborah Serani Psy.D. and her article on Psychology Today, there are a few ways to help a survivor of suicide:
- Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the death.
- Ask the survivor if and how you can help.
- Encourage openness.
- Be patient.
Like any type of loss, the people that surround the survivor can be stuck with how to respond or act. And it can come off as neglect or like the person doesn’t care. But usually it’s a lack of knowledge on how to help. Making sure you are verbally letting the person know how much you care, and asking them how they would like to be helped during this difficult time can go a long way.
If you are the survivor of someone who has died by suicide, Dr Serani also has some tips:
- Ground yourself. Remind yourself every day that you are not responsible for your loved ones decision. Do not let guilt become a part of your process.
- Don’t put a limit on your grief. It takes time. And however long it takes, or whatever you need to get through it is okay.
- Plan ahead. Sometimes certain places, dates, memories can be difficult for a long time. This is normal. Know that grief also ebbs and flows. So if you’re doing great for a long time, and a memory sets you back, it’s okay. It’s still a part of the process.
- Make connections. Seek help. Whether it’s through a therapist, a friend, or a support group. It can be very beneficial to be surrounded by people who care during this difficult time.
- Give yourself permission. To be happy again. To still be sad. To be whatever it is you need to be.
If you or anyone you know might be suffering or having thoughts of suicide, seek help at the National Suicide Lifeline 1800-273-8255