JFS Perspectives

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Seniors Matter: Heavy Hearts During the Holidays



Seniors Matter: Heavy Hearts During the Holidays

The holidays present themselves as an opportune time to cherish and celebrate life and love with family and friends. It is a time of excess decorations, sacred rituals, and reflection on the prior year. As the holidays bring feelings of happiness, joy, and community to many, others are greeted with heavy hearts as they face changed traditions forced onto them by the year’s losses.

As we age, inevitably, our losses multiply and our grief thickens as we lose spouses, friends, pets, and family. These heavy hearts beg to question, “How will I get through without ___?” The answer unfortunately is complex and individualized, but I encourage those who find themselves with heavy hearts to practice some strategies that just might help them through the season. Some examples include:

  • Giving a toast/tribute at celebrations
  • Make a “memory box” of notes and keepsakes
  • Say their name or tell a favorite story about them
  • Light a candle in their memory
  • Watch their favorite movie, listen to their favorite music, or enjoy their favorite food
  • Write a letter to them
  • Create a new tradition to honor them (release balloons, go to a special dinner, etc.)
  • Continue to make plans and set goals

Perhaps these ideas all seem to promote heavy hearts, but keeping their memory alive through small tributes allows you to better process your grief. You may have heard it before, but one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as a grieving individual is the simple act of allowing yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to be reassured that you have every right to have the heavy heart you feel while you continually adjust to changed situations. Allow yourself to feel the sadness, anger, confusion, or relief that come and go with grief. Let yourself move through the season at your own pace and try not to push yourself to complete difficult tasks when you do not feel that you can. Allow yourself to accept help in completing tasks.

The most important thing is to remember the togetherness that is magnified during the holidays is continued throughout the year if you look for it. Remind yourself that you are not alone in having a heavy heart during the holidays, or during the whole calendar year. Further, if you find yourself needing more, do not hesitate to seek help elsewhere by attending grief support groups or seeking one-on-one counseling. These avenues can not only open your thinking and ideas for how to process your grief, but also to find a community that you can share your grief journey with throughout the year. Call JFS at 303.597.5000 for resources and support.

 

Charlie JohnsonBy Charlie Johnson, MSW
Colorado Senior Connections Care Manager and Program Coordinator


Charlie Johnson, MSW is the care manager for Colorado Senior Connections in Wheat Ridge as well as the care manager for Hearts and Hands HIV/AIDS clients. In her dual role, Charlie enjoys the opportunity to engage with clients and provide them with resources and services to promote a better quality of life. She focuses on the needs of clients in Wheat Ridge by expanding access and knowledge to services as well as empowering clients to be involved and impact their community.

 

 



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