CLEVELAND — Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Dr. Susan Albers says we often associate grief with the passing of a loved one. But this year, we can feel grief from things like missed opportunities to spend time with loved ones and not being able to practice traditions.
“Grief is not like a light switch that turns on and off. It's more like a dimmer switch - it may increase in intensity from time to time. During the holidays expect waves of grief to hit you at certain times. It's often triggered by a memory or thought, even a holiday song can trigger feelings of grief.”
Albers says grief expresses itself in different forms like anger, rage, depression, or anxiety. She says it can take a toll on your mental and physical health— so it's important to cope with it.
“First, name it. You may not realize that what you're experiencing is actually grief. Just being able to put a name or label on it gives us a great sense of relief.”
She says it's important to adjust your expectations for this holiday season and do what Albers calls “coping ahead."
“The virus is not in put on pause for the holiday. When we look around the table, those empty seats may trigger us in regards to people who have passed away, or missing from our lives, but also simply people who just can't be with this year.”
Most importantly, she says, dont feel this grief alone.
“This year, people are experiencing a collective sense of grief, which opens the door to talking about it. Lean into your feelings of grief. We often want to ignore it. Tears and sadness are really the right and appropriate response to grief and we often, sometimes, we want to shut it down we say don't, don't cry. Instead, this year, say it is perfectly okay to feel sad and to have some tears.”