Broken Hearts

Exploring myths and truths about grief, loss, and recovery.

Reaching Out for Someone Who Has Always Been There

Getting through the holidays, only to be slammed by grief in January.

Logically, for many grieving people, the holidays are difficult enough, especially the first season after someone important to them has died. But many are surprised to find that the new year doesn’t automatically bring an end to the emotional pain caused by the absence. If you're affected by those opening sentences, then read on.

In fact, it is after the holidays that the day-to-day reality of the now-missing person sets in, without the distraction of the mad swirl of shopping and family gatherings. It’s a time when emotions can get amped up and cause you to think that there’s something very wrong with you.

Rather than there being something wrong with you, what you may be feeling is the natural by-product of your attempt to adapt to the the very changed circumstances of your life. Learning to function the way you did before the death, while normal and healthy, is not always the smoothest and easiest transition in the world.

Many years ago, a grieving person told us, “My grief is the feeling of reaching out for someone who has always been there, only to discover when I needed her one more time, she's no longer there.”

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Those poignant words have helped many people not feel as alone and lost as they often do in the time following the death of someone who meant so much in their life. And those words certainly can be helpful in establishing how normal it is to feel that way in the transitional time after the holidays

But other people’s words are not enough. In addition to taking actions to grieve and complete what the death left emotionally unfinished for you, it’s wise to find at least one person with whom you can talk openly and safely about the feelings you’re having as you try to move forward in your life. You can defeat the isolation of grief by participating in your own recovery.

For any of you who are concerned about a grieving family member or friend, please take the time to make yourself available to them. Let them know that the topic of grief is open and that you will listen without judgment. It may be the greatest gift you can give.

Russell Friedman is Executive Director of The Grief Recovery Institute, and co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, When Children Grieve, and Moving On.

more...

Subscribe to Broken Hearts

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?