When it’s not so merry

Recently, there has been a spate of bad news for many in our community.

Recently, there has been a spate of bad news for many in our community.

There were a number of Salmon Arm residents badly injured in motor-vehicle collisions near Vernon and Armstrong over the weekend.

There was the death of longtime projectionist, Eric Nelson, who was a very familiar face to anyone who has ever been to the Salmar Theatre.

My heart goes out to the family and friends of these people. Christmas seems a particularly cruel time to be grieving.

It is a reminder that real life does not stop because there is a joyful celebration scheduled.

For many, the holidays can be painful and difficult, especially if you are dealing with loss or a stressful situation.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has some ways to help you or someone you know get through a potentially hard time during the holiday season. Here’s a few:

• Things won’t be the same. It’s normal to feel at odds with yourself and family events when dealing with grief. Try not to hide away, but don’t feel guilty about setting limits on how many events you will attend.

• Talking about the deceased person is okay. Your stress will only increase if the deceased person’s memory is allowed to become a landmine that everyone tiptoes around.

• Don’t let other people’s expectations dictate how your holiday will unfold. If you don’t feel like doing something this holiday season, don’t let others force you. If you do want to attend holiday functions, make sure you know your limits. Leave early, arrive late, drive alone – do whatever you need to do to help yourself.

• Take care of yourself and seek support. Stress, depression and bodily neglect are not a great mix at any time of the year. Don’t forget to practise self-care and talk to your friends and family about how you feel. Also, many communities offer support groups for people who are grieving. Being around people who know what you’re going through can be very comforting.

• Think about building some new traditions. Remember that it’s okay not to do what you traditionally do. Planning something totally different is not an insult to the memory of a loved one, and can be a positive way to ease some of the pressure. That said, one of the traditions may include planning a special time to celebrate the memories of the person who died. Some families develop creative rituals like decorating a miniature Christmas tree at the cemetery, donating money to a charity, singing their favourite seasonal song, reciting a special prayer before the evening meal or even just lighting a candle.

Symbolic gestures like these can help families validate their feelings of sadness and overcome the guilt of enjoying special occasions.

This year’s holiday may not be as merry and bright as Christmas’ past. And that’s life too.


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