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Struggling with grief? Tips for coping with the holiday season

The holiday season for many is a time when the hustle and bustle intermingles with time for family, reflection and looking forward to the prospects a new year will bring.

For many, however, the season also brings sadness over the loss of a loved one – a grief that can be particularly palpable for those making their way through holidays without a spouse, a sibling, or a close relative or friend.

Abigail Unger, director of expressive therapies and the Wilson Support Center – part of the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga – offered the following tips for those who are struggling with grief.

  • Reconnect with your spiritual perspective and support network.
  • Gather with others in shared experience; feel free to share your sadness, as well as fond memories.
  • Consider options to both maintain old traditions and create new ones.
  • Engage in opportunities that can foster resilience and forge renewed relationships.
  • Be gentle and patient with yourself.
  • Give yourself permission, space, and time to determine what is best for you and your family as a whole.
  • Advocate for your needs and accept help.

“Remember,” Unger said, “that there is no manual, no right or wrong, nor any template from which you should mold your grief or your holiday.”

Extra support

Grief and the Holidays – The Hospice Education Center, at 225 Como Park Blvd., Cheektowaga, will host a program from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday for all who are grieving or have a seriously ill loved one. The free event, which will offer time for reflection and guidance, is hosted by the Hospice Buffalo Spiritual Care Team. Those who plan to attend are asked to register by Tuesday by calling the Wilson Support Center at 901-0289.

Mental health support – Mental Health Advocates of WNY can steer families and individuals to resources for those challenged by grief, depression, anxiety and similar concerns. Visit or call 886-1242. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Buffalo & Erie County also can help. Visit or call 226-6264.

Crisis support – Individuals and families in immediate need of mental health, addiction-related or abuse-prevention services can call the following 24-hour-a-day hotlines: Crisis and Suicide Prevention Hotline Serving Buffalo and Erie County, 834-3131; National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255; Addiction Hotline Serving Buffalo and Erie County, 831-7007; Erie County Domestic Violence Hotline, 862-4357; NYS Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline, 800-942-6906. Those in the region but outside Erie County also can call 211 to be connected to services.

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