Tis the season to be jolly. This verse from the Christmas song “Deck the Halls,” belies the sadness that many people feel during the winter holiday season. 

Many folks are fortunate to be celebrating with family and friends.  I wish you the best, if you are. But, if you are among those who have lost a loved one this year,  this season may offer little comfort and joy. It  may be difficult  for you to participate in holiday festivities, let alone celebrate. You may wish to be alone, or spend quiet evenings with someone whom you care about – and who cares about you. 

Honor your feelings.   

Either way, I encourage you to look around and observe your loved ones, co-workers, friends and relatives.  Be sensitive to their actions – do they seem reluctant to participate in holiday festivities?  Quieter than usual?  Staying to themselves or avoiding the group? 

Don’t try to cheer them up!  Just acknowledge their mood, and offer them an opportunity to talk if they want to.  They will appreciate your sensitivity.

Susan Berger 2010

Susan Berger

Susan A. Berger, LICSW, Ed.D. has extensive experience counseling individuals confronting the death of loved ones and other life changes. Drawing on research results and anecdotes gathered from the bereaved over the past ten years, Berger examined how a person’s worldview is affected by major loss. She wrote her book, The Five Ways We Grieve, finding your path to healing after the loss of a loved one, (Trumpeter Books, 2009) to assist professionals, and survivors and the general public understand the lifelong impact of loss on the bereaved. She founded The Center for Loss, Bereavement, and Healing in Framingham, MA, a clinical practice, helping individuals, couples and families cope with life stresses. She also provides workshops on her unique approach to lifelong grieving to professionals, such as physicians, psychologists, social workers, nurses and hospices, as well as presentations to community groups. She has published articles in professional and trade publications, as well as many media, including The Washington Post on mental health, substance abuse, health and human resources topics. She has also been cited nationally in numerous print and broadcast media, and has spoken at many conferences and workshops throughout the country. Previous experience includes academic appointments at Emmanuel College, Northeastern University, Merrimack College, and MassBay Community College. Dr. Berger earned her Doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, as well as a Master’s degree in Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Boston University. To enhance her expertise in the area of loss and bereavement, she earned a Certificate in Thanatology (Death, Dying & Bereavement) from the National Center for Death Education at Mt. Ida College in Newton, MA. Dr. Berger has volunteered as a hospice volunteer working with the dying and bereaved families. She is herself the survivor of early parental loss.

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