You may have been thinking about getting mental health support for your grief prior to the holiday season. But maybe you just haven’t found the time or felt comfortable doing so.
With all the things coming up, though, now is a great time to get some support. Things that were difficult to handle before may be even more difficult now. And often you don’t know how you are going to feel or react, so having someone who can provide you with added support can be very helpful.
Connecting with others who share similar experiences can help you feel less isolated. It may is important to connect with those you depend on for support so that you don't feel even more isolated than normal.
Seeing a Therapist
Now is also a great time to visit a mental health professional.
Many people have concerns about seeing a mental health professional. For some, there may be a stigma attached. Others may be concerned about the cost or time involved. However, mental health professionals can help you anticipate upcoming stressors and help you come up with a plan to deal with them. And it can also be helpful to have someone to talk to who is not a close friend or family member, especially as those people may be grieving as well.
If you do decide that you want to pursue seeing a therapist, first decide what you are looking for in a therapist. What style of therapy are you looking for? Do you have preference for a man or a woman?Do they take your insurance? Do you want to see someone who specializes in grief?
Once you have decided a bit about what you want, look around. Ask for recommendations and read up on a therapist’s website. Make sure to call and ask questions beforehand too, to see if they are a good fit. Most therapists are offering virtual sessions these days as well if you don’t feel comfortable attending in person.
Journaling: One strategy that is cheap and easily accessible is to keep a journal. Journal about your feelings and what is going on. Often, journaling can be a release and it gives you an outlet to talk about things that you might not be able to discuss with friends and family.
Remember that crying is OK: It can feel natural to try to hide your emotions. After all, the holidays are supposed to be a happy time of year. But keep in mind that trying to suppress your emotions won’t make them go away. It is OK to cry!
Ask for and say yes to help: If someone offers to help you, say yes. You will likely need it. And if no one offers to help you, ASK! It may be that friends or family don’t know exactly what you need, so they are hesitant to ask. But in most cases, they want to help and are happy to do so.
Practice self-care: It can be hard with all that is going on. But remember to take time for yourself and do what makes you happy.
Go to a grief group: If you aren’t quite ready to visit a therapist, a grief group can be a great way to start. It can be very helpful to talk to a group of people who are going through similar experiences. You can find local grief groups online, at houses of worship or possibly through friends and family. Many of these groups are going vitrual these days as well.
How to Help the Griever
- Offer to help the griever. If possible, say you want to help with something specific, be it cooking dinner, cleaning, shopping, etc.
- Encourage the griever to take time for themselves.
- Don’t constantly ask or push the griever into a grief group or to a counselor. But if they ask for help, assist them in finding resources.
- Just listen and be a shoulder to cry on if the griever needs it. Don’t judge or try to solve the problem for them.
- Continue to check in. This year can be particularly isolating for many, so a phone call or text message can go a long way.