Dealing with grief through the holidays

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Though for many the holidays are a time of good cheer, those who have lost someone sometimes struggle to get through them. This is a natural thing, says Berta Brannen, and she is bringing her talk on how to deal with grief through the holidays to Liverpool this week.

 

Bertha Brannen, a registered nurse and speaker on grief and loss, will be in Liverpool on Dec. 13, to help those who have lost someone cope over the holidays

Brannen will be in Liverpool on Dec. 13. The talk takes place at Trinity Anglican Church from 11 to 3 p.m., and a lunch is provided. To register call either Marilyn Scobey at 354-5442 or Susan Evans at 947-2108.

Brannen is a registered nurse based out of Yarmouth, and has specialized in grief and loss since the 1970's. For the past 12 years, she has been holding community support groups for people going through loss.

It has proved a popular program as well. They are capped at 15 to keep it more personalized, and it is always full.

"The journey is a common journey, but there are ways we can make it better and ways we can make it worse," she says. "It's a touchy subject. The thing is though, if we don't face loss, it makes it that much tougher."

Over the past few years she has seen a need for this kind of group specifically at Christmas time. The holidays tend to be one of the most difficult times for someone going through loss, she says.

In the four hour session, Brannen talks briefly about the stages of loss, then goes on to talk about the best ways to get through the holidays. There are also things that people should not do, she says, such as try to not talk about it at all.

"As a society we don't talk about death, sometimes in an effort to make people feel more comfortable," says Brennan.

Instead it ends up being one of the worst things a person can do, because talking about it can help start the healing process.

Grieving has changed in modern society, and tends to be minimized, she says.

"There is also a sense in society we need to rush through the grief."

This is reflected in a common complaint she hears, about family and friends telling the grieving person it is time to move on just a few months after the death. What research has shown, she says, is it actually takes two years to move on.

"Not that you're feeling miserable for two years, but the process to move on accepting the loss is usually two years."

She says society used to recognize the time it took, but doesn't anymore. While trying to push people through the grief seems like trying to help, it instead can magnify it.

Things are changing however, she says. There are more people talking about it in both the public and the medical sector, making it much less of a taboo subject matter.

Around the holidays there are several things people can do to make it easier to deal with the loss, she says. Some common techniques include lighting a candle or buying a gift for those less fortunate in that person's memory.

This is just a snapshot of what she talks about though, and the sessions are a chance for people to ask questions and hear of about other techniques that may work better for them.

 

Organizations: Trinity Anglican Church

Geographic location: Liverpool, Yarmouth

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