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First Holiday Grief

With the coming of Halloween, we are about to enter the holiday season. The impact of COVID-19 on lives lost has so far been measured at 200,000+. If we were to consider that each of those lives was connected to a minimum of 10 people, that results in more than 2 million people who have been impacted by COVID from the loss of a loved one. The holiday season is going to be difficult for many of these people because it will be the first Halloween, first Thanksgiving, first December, etc., without these loved ones. This means that a new cycle of grief can be expected as we enter this season. It’s important to keep that in mind for those of us who have not had to deal with this issue. 

It’s also important for those of us who have lost loved ones in other circumstances to remember that pain and to empathize, sympathize, and have compassion and kindness for those going through that grief now because of COVID. These are things we also want to keep in mind as we consider what life will be like after these first anniversaries and what type of world we want for the future that will remember and honor these lives. Remember these factors when dealing with people who are going through grief. It is not a progression of stages, but a cycle that repeats as we mourn and grieve. Over time, the things that cause us to repeat this cycle take longer to trigger. And we are revisiting that cycle continuously throughout our lives.

Here are the facts to remember:

The cycle of grief is: denial, anger, bargaining, despair, and acceptance. Each point in this cycle may require a different length to be processed than in previous passes of the cycle. Patience is required by those supporting individuals going through these cycles.

Each of us is more than a single identity. The people going through grief are grieving all of the different identities/roles that their loved one held, which may be a part of what triggers as well as prolongs different parts of the cycle.

Be ready to listen when someone speaks of their loved one as they begin this new grieving cycle. The most effective thing you can do is listen; do not try to fix. 

No matter how well-meaning, it is very likely that you will say or do something that will trigger their remembrance of their lost loved one. Remember that this time of the year is difficult for many, for multiple reasons. Just be there.

Contact your local mental health providers for a list of grief support groups and/or individual assistance in your grieving process. May these times bring you some comfort.