Grief During the Holidays Stacey Balkanski, LCSW As the holiday season begins once again, those of us who have suffered significant losses either recently, or in the past, can struggle with finding the “joy of the season." It can feel like everyone else is celebrating while we just want to hide until it’s over. When we lose the people in our life that have always been there, it is a life-altering event. Holidays can be another painful reminder of those who are no longer with us and the roles they played in family traditions and celebrations. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali, Ramadan, Kwanza and New Year’s Day can be very difficult holidays for people who have experienced the death of a beloved family member, friend, or pet. Memories serve as constant reminders of loss. Watching others celebrate can be painful and overwhelming. Particularly in the first year after a death, survivors must learn how to develop new holiday rituals and traditions. The first step in coping with grief during the holidays is to acknowledge that the holiday season is difficult. You can prepare for it by making specific plans and obtaining the support you need. Remember too, that sometimes anticipation of a holiday can be more difficult than the day itself. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Decide if you can still handle past responsibilities and expectations. Examine the tasks and events of celebrating and ask yourself if you want to continue them. Accept others' offers to cook, shop, decorate, etc. Consider shopping by phone, Internet or catalog if you feel a need to avoid crowds or memories. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Share your plans with family and friends and let them know of changes in holiday routines. Memories can sometimes be a source of comfort to the bereaved. Allow yourself to feel joy, sadness, anger – allow yourself to grieve. It is important to recognize that every family member has his/her own unique grief experience. No one way is right or wrong. Experiencing joy and laughter during a time of grief does not mean you have forgotten your loved one. Consider including in them in the day by telling stories and looking at photo albums. Despite the temptation, try to avoid “canceling” the holiday. It is OK to avoid some circumstances that you don’t feel ready to handle, but don't isolate yourself. Make some time for solitude, remembering and grieving, but balance it with planned social activities. Draw comfort from doing for others. Consider giving a donation or gift in memory of your loved one. Invite a guest who might otherwise be alone for the holidays. Adopt a needy family during the holiday season. Take care of yourself. Avoid using alcohol to self-medicate your mood. Try to avoid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Physical exercise is often an antidote for depression. Writing in a journal can be a good outlet for your grief. Give yourself permission to buy something frivolous and indulgent, just because. Create a new tradition or ritual that accommodates your current situation. Some people find comfort by honoring traditions, while others find them unbearably painful. Discuss with your family the activities you want to include or exclude this year. Some examples of new rituals and traditions include:
Create a memory box. Fill it with photos of your loved one or memory notes from family members and friends. Ask young children to contribute drawings in the memory box.
Light a candle in honor of your loved one.
Put a bouquet of flowers on your holiday table in memory of your loved one.
Visit the cemetery and decorate the memorial site.
Have a moment of silence during a holiday toast to honor your loved one.
Place a commemorative ornament on the Christmas tree.
Dedicate one of the Chanukah candles in memory of your loved one.
Write a poem about your loved one and read it during a holiday ritual.
Play your loved one’s favorite music or favorite game.
The most important thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holiday season after the death of a loved one.
Local Grief Resources:
Tomorrow's Rainbow, grief support groups starting at 3 years old through high school, grant funded Trauma Focused - Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, www.TomorrowsRainbow.org
VITAS, on-line grief support groups, VITAS
Children's Bereavement Center, child, teen & adult support groups, CBC
Thank You! Professionals United for Parkland was honored provide the Nurture the Nurturers Event along with Silver Sponsors Futures Recovery Healthcare, Coral Shores Behavioral Health, Aware Recovery Center and Bronze Sponsor Next Level Recovery. The day of wellness focused on burnout remediation through interactive presentations including discussion, movement and stress reduction activities. Now, more than ever, our community will need us to help support them through difficult times. We are grateful for the day of self-care and return to the community ready to help.
Coral Shores Behavioral Health is a state-of-the-art freestanding psychiatric hospital since June 2017. The hospital is located in Stuart, Florida, on the beautiful Treasure Coast, just 30 minutes North from West Palm Beach. CSBH has 80 inpatient beds and serves children, adolescents, adults and older adults. Services include - Crisis Intervention and Stabilization; Medication Management; Individual and group counseling; Psychoeducational Groups, Recreational Therapy; Patient and Family Education; Discharge and aftercare planning. Outpatient treatment services provide a framework for recovery and healing and can include Adult PHP, Adult IOP, and Adolescent IOP. Available both in office or virtual. CSBH is the only Baker Act receiving facility in Martin County.
Futures Recovery Healthcare offers a comprehensive detox and residential program for substance abuse and co-occurring conditions, a residential program for primary Mental Health needs, and Orenda concierge program, the Rise experiential program, and intensive outpatient and outpatient services. Futures also offer specialized services for our First Responders and Veterans, those with chronic pain and those with trauma. Futures emphasizes individualized approaches to address the complexity of behavioral healthcare concerns, high-quality and compassionate care, the importance of establish an ongoing continuum of integrated care, and the value of alumni involvement. Futures Recovery Healthcare is accredited by The Joint Commission and the Agency for Health Care Administration.
Aware Recovery Care provides In-Home Addiction Treatment (IHAT) Aware Recovery Care is a pioneer in the in-home mental health and substance use disorder treatment industry, representing true innovation. Supported by a specially-trained team of addiction professionals, Aware offers a best-in-class in-home addiction treatment program backed by both logic and data. We provide a full continuum of home-based care including in-home withdrawal management, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and management, individual therapy, family therapy, and coordinated medical and behavioral healthcare all covered by specific insurance carriers with our own unique code, which allows us to work alongside of treatment center, PCP's and therapists.
Next Level Recovery Associates offers comprehensive support services to individuals and families affected by substance use disorders and mental health concerns. The Next Level Team puts together individual care plans to guide people towards achieving long term success.
If you should find yourself or someone you know in immediate crisis or need for help, dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. Some other resources for immediate crisis support include:
211 – In Florida, and many areas, most counties will have a dedicated 211 resource hotline. Dial 211 from your phone to be connected to your local 211 branch. This may depend on where you’re calling from if it’s from your Cell Phone.
Crisis Text Line – Text any word (Help, Talk, etc.) to 741741 to be connected via text to a trained crisis counselor.
Paational Suicide Prevention Hotline – Until the 3-digit hotline number is active later in 2022, the original number will still be the one to use – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).P al. al. al a Our Mission “Professionals United for Parkland was created to identify and meet the short and long-term needs related to mental health/well-being of the South Florida community in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy through evidence-based services including education for the general community and professionals, clinical training, clinical services, support for clinicians, and more. We work alongside other local organizations and groups to ensure that we identify gaps in current services and that the needs of our community are being adequately addressed. We are entirely non-political.
Professionals United For Parkland Honors the 17
Professionals United for Parkland remembers Gina Montalto. Gina always took great pride in her education. High grades and school involvement were a huge part of Gina's life. She always looked for ways to help others. To honor Gina's memory the family created the Gina Rose Montalto Memorial Foundation to help students with the cost of post secondary education, as well as make charitable donations to causes Gina supported. With your donations, we hope to help give the gift of higher education to other children.
To learn more: https://ginarosemontaltomemorialfoundation.org/
PU4P Updates Interested in joining our trauma trained therapists (licensed only) - please take a few moments of your time and join the PU4P referral directory. The MSD community will need services for the long run. PU4P links those in need with a vetted list of trauma therapists. We ask for a commitment of 2 pro-bono clients a year. For more information or questions, please contact email@example.com. Please support PU4P by designating it as your charity with The AmazonSmile Foundation. They will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible smile.amazon.com purchases. Don't forget to check our Facebook page for the most current events, updates, and information about PU4P! Thank you for your support of PU4P and your dedication to the Parkland community.