Holiday Blues by Jessica Costaldi, LPC

For some, the hustle and bustle of preparing Thanksgiving dinners and decorating for Christmas brings feelings of sadness rather than joy. Perhaps holidays remind us of unhappy childhood memories or current family strife, or maybe the cold, dark days of winter exacerbate already-present depressive symptoms. For others, the first holiday after a significant death or […]

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For some, the hustle and bustle of preparing Thanksgiving dinners and decorating for Christmas brings feelings of sadness rather than joy.

Perhaps holidays remind us of unhappy childhood memories or current family strife, or maybe the cold, dark days of winter exacerbate already-present depressive symptoms. For others, the first holiday after a significant death or other loss can be especially difficult to navigate. Memories of a lost or distant loved one can feel overwhelming, and it just doesn’t feel “right” without that person near you.

  • If you’re dealing with depression, anxiety or loss during this “merry and bright” holiday season, consider doing one or more of the following:
  • Cry if you need to. Tears are a normal reaction to loss and grief. At the same time, be patient with loved ones who do not express their grief through tears.
  • Seek out supportive friends or family members.
  • Do your best not to withdraw and isolate.
  • If you’re grieving a death, find ways to honor the memory of your loved one. This could be creating a new tradition (displaying the loved one’s picture and lighting a candle near it, for example) or continuing an old tradition that the family member enjoyed.
  • Read a book about grief and loss. Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge, RN, Ed.D. and Robert C. DeVries, D.Min, Ph.D. have written several excellent books about grief, including The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions; Traveling through Grief: Learning to Live Again after the Death of a Loved One; and Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse. Additionally, The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce and Other Losses by John W. James & Russell Friedman is another good resource for dealing with grief and loss.

Participate in a grief support group. The Grief Center at Circle of Life Hospice has free support groups in Bentonville and Springdale, open to anyone who is grieving a loved one. No registration required. For more information, call 479-872-3338 or email cginther@nwacircleoflife.org.
Finally, if you feel “stuck” in your grief, depression or anxiety, consider talking with one of the mental health professionals at NWA Premier Counseling, who can help you find ways to heal and create new meaning during the holiday season and into the new year.