Coping with Grief During the Holidays

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By: Sara Stone, Licensed Social Worker

Fir branch, candle and  Christmas decorationsThis time of year we’re thinking about celebrating the holidays with family and friends. We’re looking to find joy in making memories and partaking in traditions. Sound perfect, right?  Well, not for everyone. How do we cope with grief during the holidays?

Many who are grieving the loss of a loved one can find these holidays and traditions to be a very challenging time. Holidays can often time magnify the loss, and make some of the traditions feel unbearable.  You are not alone if you find yourself dreading an upcoming holiday or worrying about what or how you will make it through.

For each person, the experience can vary a great deal. This is because grief itself is so very personal.  Many feel that holidays are a time when they need to force themselves to cheer up and go with the flow. That is actually the opposite of what one should be doing.  Because the holidays can often time be a trigger of great emotion, much of which we may not be expecting or ready for, it’s important to give yourself permission to work through your grief and not force yourself to do anything you’re not ready for or comfortable with.

By grieving, we work our way through the pain that we feel over our lost loved one. The grief is our internal feelings, while the pain and sadness is what others may see.  It’s okay to talk about your loss, or reflect on it. Take time to journal, or reflect on the holidays and what areas mean most to you.

Grief.com has a few suggestions on ways to cope:saragrief-support-tag

  • Do allow time for your feelings.
  • Do allow others to help. We all need help at certain time in our lives.
  • Do be gentle with yourself and protect yourself.
  • Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not service your soul and your loss.
  • Do, in grief, pay extra attention to the children. Children are too often forgotten grievers.

Sometimes the thought of the holiday approaching may be harder for us than when the actual holiday arrives. Some people welcome the ‘change of pace’ and activity that often times comes with the event.

Another point of consideration is that although the holidays may never be the same after the loss of your loved one, it is a time for you to evaluate how you want your holiday to look or feel.  Do you start a new tradition in honor of your loved one?  This may be as simple as;

  • Leaving a chair open at the table or in the space that you celebrate.
  • Starting a journal about your loved one and inviting family to add happy memories.
  • Doing a balloon release or some other reflection activity such as lighting a special candle in their honor during the holiday celebration.
  • One support group member got a small tree and asked all family members to buy an ornament that they felt reminded them of their father/grandfather. Each of them put the ornament on that tree and every year, the tree has a special place during the winter holiday season.

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Here at Tri-County Health Care we offer several free, monthly support group meetings to the community, including:

1. Adult Survivors of Suicide Loss Support Group

The purpose of this group is to provide a confidential support group for those who have experienced this type of loss to find support, share their story and learn ways to cope. It is open to all adult family members and friends of a loved one who has completed suicide. The groups meets the third Tuesday of the month from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in the Wesley Conference Room in the lower level of Tri-County Health Care.

2. Grief Support Group

Anyone who has experienced a loss is invited to the support group. The group’s purpose is to offer understanding, suggestions for coping, support, friendship, and most of all, hope to bereaved adults. They meet the first Tuesday of each month from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Wesley Conference Room, located in the lower level of Tri-County Health Care in Wadena.

3. Parents Who Have Lost a Child Support Group

This support group is open to all parents who have lost a child of any age, at any time in their lives. They meet the second Monday of the month from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the Wesley Conference Room at Tri-County Health Care.

Sara Stone

Sara Stone

For more information or questions about the support groups offered, please contact the Medical Social Services office (218) 631-5228. To see a list of all monthly support groups offered by TCHC go here: http://www.tchc.org/education-and-resources/support-groups.

About the Author: Sara Stone, LSW is the Medical Social Services Manager at Tri-County Health Care. The goal of her department is to provide support, education, referrals and serve as a resource to patients and their families regarding all matters of health and well-being.


Finding the Right Obstetrics Provider to Deliver Our Baby

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By: Lonna Dille, Licensed Social Worker – Medical Social Services

Finding a medical provider was never really a difficult task, but I found that choosing an OB provider was daunting! I had previously been receiving care at another facility, but when I started working at Tri-County Health Care in September, 2014, I knew I wanted to receive my OB care at Tri-County. The nurses and doctors here made that decision very easy for me! Yet, after working with all the wonderful doctors, how on earth do I decide on just one?! I knew all of the providers had great qualities, but I had to decide who was the best match for me, my personality, my family and whose style I thought would best motivate and encourage me. I knew I needed someone down-to-earth, kind, but who was also going to be straightforward. I chose Laura DuChene, MD.

My husband and I were very excited to start a family, but it was a roller coaster of emotions because we miscarried our first child. Even though we were very excited to try again I was nervous about the possibility of miscarrying again. However, when we found out we were expecting we were ecstatic!! We told our families at Christmas (a memory I very much cherish) and asked them to support us in our new adventure, but also asked that they not share the news until we were “safe to tell”. We did this knowing that if we were to miscarry again, we would have the support of our families rather than feel isolated and alone. We didn’t tell our friends, extended relatives, etc. until I was about 17 weeks along in my pregnancy.

I will admit that my anxieties about miscarriage got the best of me. Poor Dr. DuChene! I am certain my questions and concerns were incessant, but she didn’t mind once. When I was working one day, I actually fainted on the inpatient floor and the nurses brought me to her and she made room in her schedule immediately for me. I could’ve seen another medical provider in the emergency department but she made it a priority to see me! Another thing I loved about Dr. Duchene was her advice. It wasn’t just clinical advice, it was things like letting me know that Target had great maternity clothes and the comfiest maternity jeans! She is a mother of three, so she shared some great tips with me! She was also amazing through labor. I had no idea what I was doing (like any first time mom). Of course I got advice from friends and family who tried to explain what labor was going to be like, but its pretty hard to remember in the craziness! Her instruction was always helpful and well-articulated. She was so encouraging, and I remember she called me a “champ” during labor and I just remember thinking yes, I CAN DO THIS!

Baby Dille with hat from DuChene

Easton shows off his fire department hat knit specially for him by Dr. DuChene.

My husband and I are both firefighters and EMT’s for our local fire department, in Motley. He tried to come to as many appointments as he was able. The couple of times that he came with she made sure to include him in the appointment. In our conversations we spoke of our work with the fire department. We didn’t know the gender of the baby, but we had a firefighter onesie to take our baby home from the hospital. The day after I delivered Easton, Dr. DuChene came to do her rounding and she hand delivered us a FD (fire department) hat that she had personally knit for him. My husband and I were so touched! Not only did she take the time to knit our precious baby a hat, but she remembered that we were fire fighters and that we had decorated his nursery in a fire department theme!

Once we were home, the home visit from the TCHC nurse was a godsend! She was so helpful and supportive! Seriously, the nursing staff at TCHC is so caring and compassionate. They went above and beyond to care for Easton, my husband and I!

At the end of the day you need to be happy with the provider you choose. We have great providers to choose from at Tri-County Health Care, as I and many other will vouch for! My husband and I did not care what gender our baby would be, we just prayed that we had a healthy, full term baby. When Dr. DuChene delivered us a healthy, baby boy, it was the biggest blessing to us! We are so in love with our precious baby boy, and we are so thankful for the amazing we care we received from Dr. Duchene and the nursing staff at Tri-County.

About the Author:IMG_0400_zpsy9lgpmx2
Lonna Dille has been a Medical Social Worker at TCHC since September 2014, providing services to inpatient, clinic, and the emergency department at
Tri-County Health Care. Lonna and her husband Nick have been married four years and now have their son Easton, who is over three months old. Lonna enjoys hunting and fishing with her husband and family, good coffee and shopping. Her new favorite down time is cuddling with her son and husband while watching a good movie.