Holidays bring reminders of grief and sadness to many

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 8:07 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The holiday season can bring many people unwanted feelings of grief and loss, particularly with the impact of the pandemic.

Traditional family holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah can often serve as reminders of loss and sadness to many people, and this year with COVID-19, it only makes the holidays harder.

“People are not alone in their feelings of grief and loss,” UW-Madison Division of Extension Health and Wellbeing Educator Selena Freimark said.

Although the holidays are meant to be a joyous time, an empty chair at the table can be reminders of lost loved ones.

“The holidays can be particularly tough for people who have experienced a loss, people don’t always grieve in the same way or even about the same things,” Freimark said.

Freimark organizes a free virtual program called Grief, Loss and New Holiday traditions.

It’s her goal to help people understand grief and share resources with those who are struggling.

“It just gives some additional support, it’s really nice to be able to see that there are other people who are looking for other ways to help with support so you just know you’re not alone,” Freimark said.

Now with more loss from COVID-19, it only makes grieving harder, leaving many folks a sense of confusion and loneliness.

“We are spending time in our apartments and our homes thinking about these things and not necessarily having directly another person to share that with,” Centre for Well-Being Director Noreen Salzman said.

She said this year is especially hard since many people look forward to family traditions.

Ways to cope with grief include reflecting on your strengths and listening to music you enjoy, but hanging out virtually may not be the answer everyone is looking for.

“While that’s really nice, I think sometimes it’s that personal contact that we’re still going to be missing and so maybe it’s going out and doing something that we haven’t done before, going for a hike going for a walk,” Salzman said.

Making phone calls to friends and family or even mailing gifts are other ways to help people struggling.

The free virtual grief program will take place on Dec. 10 from 7 to 8 p.m.

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