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Front Page » December 18, 2008 » Carbon County News » Coping with grief, loss of loved ones during holidays pos...
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Coping with grief, loss of loved ones during holidays poses difficult challenge

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USU Extension writer

For some Carbon County residents, the holidays bring sad feelings, particularly in contrast to the way things are supposed to be. 

The season can be especially difficult for families and friends who have experienced the death of someone close and are facing the holidays for the first time without their loved ones.

More than any other time, the holidays can be a reminder of the loss since families and friends are most often together, indicated Tom Lee, Utah State University consumer and human development program leader.

Many holiday activities are too painful or people may simply not feel like participating in the traditions or events, explained Lee.

The USU Extension consumer and human development program leader offered several tips for dealing with grief during the holidays. Lee recommended that local residents consider:

•Discussing with family members and friends how things will be different during the holidays.

People should talk about things family members want to do and things they don't want to participate in.

People should try and keep the days happy for children, but they should avoid setting the expectations too high for themselves.

In addition to tiredness that can come with the holidays, grief can wear people out. They should do the best they can.

•Realizing that what families and friends do the first year after the loss may not be what they will do the following years.

People may choose to renew some traditions and activities after time passes. But it may be helpful to change things around, especially the first year, noted the USU Extension consumer and human development program leader.

Families who have always eaten a big meal at home may want to try going out.

People may want to spend the day in a different place or in a different way. 

•While replacing old family traditions, focus on starting new ones.

People may want to begin personal rituals to commemorate a lost loved one's life.

Suggestions include:

Decorating the loved one's grave with a holiday theme.

Putting up his or her favorite decoration in a special place inside the home.

Writing a poem or letter to or about the loved one.

Making a contribution in the loved one's name to a worthy charity.

Placing an ornament on the tree that reminds the family of him or her.

Giving a toast to the loved one at the holiday meal.

Sharing favorite memories of the loved one at family gatherings.

When others know it is OK to talk about the deceased, they will likely participate in the conversations, said the USU Extension consumer and development specialist.

Talking about lost loved ones can invite pleasant memories, noted Lee.

Family members and friends will probably shed tears during the discussions and holiday activities, but they may also find joy in the special events.

People will never forget loved ones, but the holidays can become happier with every passing year, concluded the USU Extension consumer and human development program leader.

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December 18, 2008
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