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Holidays Can Be Hard

For those that have lost a loved one, the holidays can bring back painful memories.

Cynthia Oliver, Director of the Good Grief Center in Squirrel Hill, which provides bereavement support, notes that the holiday season can be a difficult time, with all the celebrations and rituals that may bring back memories of the person who has passed away. Oliver said that grief affects everyone differently and is a unique experience that is different for every person. In some cases, cultural and gender roles play a part.

"Some people don't feel like they should take care of it themselves. A lot of men are more typical — to hold things in and not reach out for help — wheras a woman is more likely to get support or even have support," she said.

Oliver added that grief can occur anytime, for someone who has been gone for any amount of time. Grief is the internal feeling we feel, while mourning is how we express our feelings.

She suggests that if a person is grieving or feeling poorly during this time, the person should give themselves permission to enjoy themselves.

"Your loved one would want you to be happy," she said.

She said that if someone you know has lost a loved one, contrary to popular opinion, it is better to bring that person up in conversation rather than ignoring the memory of the lost loved one. Many people fear stirring up bad memories. but Oliver said that not saying their name or bringing it up doesn't mean the one who is grieving is not thinking of them. It helps the person who is grieving to remember good times shared with the person.

Oliver also said that counseling and support groups can provide relief during a difficult time.