There’s no magic wand for coping with grief around the holidays. But opening up about it can help.
Susan Garruto is an operating room nurse practitioner at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Recently at an informal staff chat about grief during the holidays, she offered this guidance.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge people’s grief when you know that they’ve lost a parent or a good friend or a child,” said Garruto. “So my advice was to just go up to them and give them your heart and a hug and not to shy away or think that they might not want to talk about it because they do. It’s huge.”
Garruto is spot-on, says Reverend Joseph Leggieri, director of pastoral care at Jefferson. He says people generally assume those who are grieving don’t want us to mention the name of their departed. But that’s seldom the case.
“Most of us want that name honored,” said Leggieri. “They want that name mentioned so that at times like this around the holidays where families are getting together and there’s kind of this conspiracy of silence — nobody speak about mom or brother or whoever it might be — it hurts, it hurts the individual who needs that for themselves.”
Leggieri says grief and the holidays are intimate partners because they are both emotional events. He says people can acknowledge their loss this time of year while still celebrating, albeit in a different way.