COLUMN: Coping with grief during the holidays

Nelson District Hospice Society offering drop-in grief groups for the bereaved twice over the holidays

Caliente Cosgrove

Contributor

Like many people, I know how it is to feel lost and lonely throughout the largest and longest family holiday celebration of the year. The passing of a beloved family member, or dear friend, no matter the timing, usually gives rise to high anxiety, a huge sense of loss and often deep depression at this time.

My husband died on November 22 and that first holiday season was overwhelming! It has taken many seasons to heal the wound, regroup and rebuild my world.

And, this is actually quite normal!

One of my greatest joys now is to be a member of the Nelson District Hospice Society (NDHS), and I want to share with you that we are offering drop-in grief groups for the bereaved twice over the holidays — on Monday, December 23 and Friday, December 27 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Both sessions will be held at the Kalein Hospice Centre, 402 West Richards in Rosemont.

Here we offer a confidential and nurturing environment providing support for those grieving the loss of loved ones. These sessions are run by trained facilitators and the groups will include time for sharing, and for learning some basic coping skills for this season, and for all times.

Allow me to give you some examples of what can take place when a group of people, all feeling pretty raw and uncertain, gather to find relief and feel safe again. In this environment you can choose to share your pain or fears.

A common fear is that hearing other similar stories will only make you feel worse! In these circles a space is created by the facilitator that does not encourage fear, rather one that builds upon ideas that sustain people and demonstrate how you can get through this time.

Another common fear is not knowing or understanding how to “let go!” Within the group you can realize that you are able to give voice to your thoughts and feelings, as the facilitator will help you to find a way to remain connected to the relationship of your loved one. Here they will encourage individual stories, exploring both sides of the relationship, and discovering how to say “hello” again.

At first, I found I could not rely on memories to comfort me — as so early into the separation all I wanted was to see, feel and hear my husband again. The joy of the memories takes much longer to become a salve to the wound.

Now, they are often a tender or a laughter filled moment that warms my heart. And then there is that huge task of clearing the closets.

One woman described how, rather than deal with it, she chose to avoid the room and then the entire floor. Eventually, she went there and found inspiration as she collected his T-shirts and other clothing which led to her creating a quilt.

When completed, she wrapped it around herself and realized that it felt as if he was embracing her again!

Other grief group members have explained how, as they looked at their relationship with their loved one and embraced the pain, they felt it as a testimony to the relationship itself — to the love, to a sense of purpose, or even at times, a sense of failure — behind all of these realizations are, of course, other understandings to be discovered.

A group is about “insider knowledge”  it’s what each person brings to the circle, from their hearts. Special days are a huge challenge for those grieving, all of those anniversaries may seem unbearable.

Therefore, it is in a circle, with a group who share their experiences that you will realize that you are only normal. It is here you can understand that these people feel the same as you, which gives validation and helps to normalize your life again!

Many blessings to each of you at this special time and please consider joining us on December 23 or 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at that the Kalein Hospice Centre, at 402 West Richards Street, Rosemont, 250-352-3331.

— Caliente Cosgrove is a

Nelson  Hospice Caregiver