Tips on dealing with grief and the winter blues from Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley
BY KATE FAVARO
Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley
The holidays have drawn to a close, decorations stored safely away, you’ve made it to January. Now you’re facing the winter blues that only the long frigid winter weather of the North County can bring.
If you were grieving a loss prior to and during the holidays, chances are you are (rightfully) exhausted, and facing these winter blues can be unsettling and even a little scary.How do you navigate these feelings of grief coupled with these natural, albeit difficult to handle, winter blues?
Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley offers the following suggestions:
• Remember the good times you had with your loved one. Winter is a great time to pull together either printed or digital photos and make a scrapbook or design a photobook online spanning your relationship with them. Take your time, carefully select photos, and write beautiful captions for them.
• Stay active. If you are not a winter sports person this is something that can easily fall by the wayside as the below zero temperatures and feet of snow stay with us longer. Try to find little ways to get up and moving whether it’s yoga, walking on a treadmill, parking further from the doors at the grocery store, walking in place during commercial breaks, or even vacuuming your home.
• Talk about your loved one. Yes, this may still cause you to cry but there is nothing wrong with tears! Tell stories about what you used to do in the winter with them for fun or of bad winter storms (Ice Storm of ’98, anyone?) you got through together. Tell these stories to anyone who will listen; a friend, family member, cat, dog, fish, God/Higher Power, maybe a local Hospice Bereavement Coordinator.
• Try making a list and sticking to a routine. Grieving is hard work and makes you tired as do the shortened daylight hours winter brings. Allow yourself to rest, when necessary, but be careful not to sleep your days away. Jotting down a few things to do each day (making your bed, doing the dishes, going to the Post Office, calling a friend) and then being able to cross them off will show you that you accomplished something and were successful.
• Give yourself some credit! Take a moment to think about all the emotions, events, and tasks you’ve dealt with while grieving. Recognize that you are doing the very best that you can in a very difficult situation.
A note about COVID. As the pandemic continues virtually all aspects of life are impacted, including grief. Due to social spacing guidelines, attendance at memorial services or funerals has not always been an option, which can disrupt a person’s need for ritual in the grieving process. You may find that you’re not able to see people who support you in your grief face-to-face, but this does not mean you shouldn’t still reach out to them for support.
Grief, like your relationship with a deceased loved one, is unique. While we offer these suggestions, we also encourage you to find what works for you in your grieving process.
If you are not sure where to start you can always ask for help. Hospice offers a Community Bereavement program designed to educate and empower you to grieve in the most natural and constructive way possible. For more information, please contact Kate Favaro, Bereavement Coordinator, at 315-265-3105.
Kate Favaro, CRPA, is Bereavement Coordinator & Volunteer Manager with Hospice of St. Lawrence Valley