By Lisa Watson, LPC
If you don’t know where to start
- It’s impossible to know exactly how you’ll feel. Take care of your health, get adequate sleep, and find ways to be active.
- Approach the holidays with curiosity rather than expectancy. It may surprise you how you cope with important days. There is no right or wrong way.
If it all seems too overwhelming
- Set limits. Only do things that are important to you.
- Avoid overdoing it. Sometimes we keep busy to stay distracted from pain. Remember pain in grief serves a purpose.
- Recruit help. Be kind to yourself and allow loved ones to help.
If you’re worried about facing others
- Be prepared with a canned answer. “I’m doing OK” or “some days are better than others” is completely acceptable.
- Don’t be afraid to cry in public. Surround yourself with people who are good listeners, people will be understanding.
- Prepare an exit strategy. Only commit to certain times after events begin. Create a reason to leave if you need to, even to go home.
If you know children who are grieving
- Involve them in making a decoration in honor of their loved one. This encourages them to share memories and express feelings freely.
- Make a memory box or scrapbook together. Decorate it for the season and fill it with pictures and special items.
- Ask children and others what they miss about their loved one. This gives everyone an opportunity to share a memory and acknowledges that this special person is not here.
Facing the years ahead
- What you choose to do the first year can always change. Experiment with new family rituals. There are many ways to honor your loved one on special days
About the author
Lisa Watson, LPC has been a bereavement counselor with Harbor Hospice since Feb. 2022 and a counselor for almost 9 years. She previously has worked with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as counseled at Wedgwood Christian Services. Lisa looks forward to many more years of working with Harbor Hospice to support clients experiencing the death of loved ones. She is also available to speak with local groups on grief-related topics.
Grief support is an important part of the services Harbor Hospice offers to its families and our community. Harbor Hospice provides a variety of supportive services for those who are grieving after the death of a loved one, a beloved pet, or dealing with other losses associated to caregiving, health issues and other life situations.
Harbor Hospice and Harbor Palliative Care is committed to alleviating patients’ symptoms and providing choices to help the patient achieve optimum well-being. For four decades, Harbor Hospice has provided experienced, compassionate end-of-life care for terminally ill patients and their families, focusing on medical, emotional, and spiritual needs regardless of ability to pay. Serving residents of lakeshore West Michigan, their team of professionals and volunteers connect patients and families with resources to align their goals of comfort and improved quality of life.
Learn more at HarborHospiceMI.org or by calling 231.728.3442 / 1.800.497.9559.