Class teaches how to cope with holiday grief

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By Amy Taylor

 Many of us think of the holiday season as a time of joy and fun. For others, however, it’s a time of loneliness and grief. Some people live far from family and miss seeing their loved ones at this time of year. Others dread going to holiday parties without a partner. Then there are those who feel saddened by the holidays, since they remind them of family members who are long gone.

Those who feel grief at Christmastime can take heart. A Hospice of Nelson County social worker and chaplain will offer “Coping with Grief through the Holidays,” a session that will teach coping skills for those who are grieving. The free class will be Thursday, Dec. 13 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Hospice office at 202 W. Stephen Foster, Suite A (behind Medica Pharmacy).

Part of the reason the holidays bring up loneliness for some is that our society has high expectations for this time of year. The absence of a romantic partner or close family member seems more uncomfortable now that we’re supposed to be going to parties and unwrapping gifts and feeling jolly. One way to deal with feelings of loneliness is to re-think your expectations. Realize that few people’s lifestyles measure up to the “movie standards” of perfect holiday living. Then take a good friend (instead of the perfect date) to a holiday party.

Another great way to feel less lonely during the holidays is to donate your time to a cause in which you believe. Helping those less fortunate than you can fill you with feelings of love, and even connect you with others who share your passion. You’ll be immersing yourself in the true spirit of the season.

While you may be feeling alone in your life right now, knowing that the holidays can be a lonely time for many people may help you to feel less alone. Many people wish they could be with family, but can’t; many people long for closer connections with friends, or wish for a supportive romantic relationship, and find themselves feeling isolated during this time of year. While it may be uncomfortable to feel lonely, it’s OK to feel this way. Talking with others who share your feelings — either via the Internet, or in a support group — can help you feel less alone in your situation.

There are many far-reaching benefits to creating an attitude of gratitude. A good way to do that is to make a gratitude list for what you already have. It’s hard to focus on gratitude and loneliness at the same time. So get out your pad and pen and start listing the many good things you have in your life.

Find out more by attending the Hospice class. To register or for more information, call 350-5570. You’ll be glad you did.