If you’ve recently lost a loved one, holiday cheer can feel like just the opposite. Sondra Sexton-Jones, a Juneau, AK, counselor specializing in bereavement and grief counseling, understands the struggles of grieving during the festive season. After losing her husband to suicide, the professional therapist channeled her experience into helping others deal with sudden loss. Her book, “When Someone You Love Completes Suicide,” is used as a reference in crisis centers and hospitals nationwide. For over 25 years, she’s used her personal experience and professional expertise to offer compassionate individual therapy and family counseling, helping people throughout the Juneau area cope with bereavement, grief, depression, anxiety, and other issues.
The holiday season can bring a new wave of grief to those dealing with the recent loss of a loved one. While nothing can take away the pain of bereavement, these tips from grief counseling specialist Sondra Sexton-Jones can help you get through the holidays after a loss.
Have A Plan
Often, the anticipation of the holidays brings more sadness and anxiety than the events themselves. Write out a detailed schedule of your holiday plans. Include family and social events, time with loved ones, and time reserved for yourself. Knowing what’s ahead will help you eliminate worst-case-scenario thinking and reduce anxiety.
Honor The Absent
Pretending your loved one isn’t missing does nothing to eliminate the sadness of having the holidays without them. Bring healing to the holidays by adding honoring your loved one to the year’s festivities. Give a gift in their honor to a local charitable organization, mark their place at the table with a candle or flowers, and don’t shy away from telling holiday stories about them throughout the week.
Take Care Of Yourself
Bereavement takes a lot of energy. Be aware of the energetic toll of grief, and be gentle with yourself this holiday season. Break down holiday tasks into smaller chunks, delegate, and don’t be afraid to pare down your activities list this season. Bodies in bereavement are extra susceptible to illness and need plenty of rest, so don’t forget to eat well and get plenty of sleep.
Say “Yes” — But Carefully
Being around people can be a great boon during bereavement, but only if they’re the right people. Rather than isolating yourself this holiday season, be choosy about the invitations you accept. Surround yourself with people who have been most supportive during your grieving, or reach out to your support system for company during specific holiday activities, from church services to New Year’s Eve toasts.
During the holidays, professional grief counseling can help those experiencing a loss cope with the unique emotions of bereavement. If you’ve recently lost a loved one and are looking for support, call (907) 586-3313 to schedule an appointment with Sondra Sexton-Jones. You can also visit her website to learn more about her individual therapy and family counseling services.