Grieving For Loved Ones Over Christmas

Have you been feeling a bit off and can’t put your finger on why? Sure, life is pretty hectic with everyone wanting to get ready for the silly season, but what if it’s more than that? For many people, the lead up to Christmas is a time when they experience grief without being consciously aware of it.

Unfortunately, grief is something we all experience and the realization of lost loved ones is most prominent when families gather at Christmas. For most, it will be due to the passing of a loved one. Tragically, for others it will be the devastation that a loved one is missing. Either way, there is a significant loss and Christmas time can surface emotions which are out of our control.

Regardless of the circumstances the first Christmas is always the most extreme. This is a time when grief is raw and emotions are fragile. It is a very personal experience, so some loved ones will grieve much longer and far more profound than others.

As the years pass by it can get a little easier, however, upon the lead up to Christmas some people aren’t aware of why they experience changes. This can also happen upon the lead up to birthdays and anniversaries. Individuals may get upset easily or feel lethargic, tired, irritated or depressed. It’s a strange phenomenon which happens to many people and is difficult for individuals to comprehend. All they know is that they feel bad, but can’t put an explanation on why.

Strangely, after these events pass, this feeling eases. However, it’s during this time that individuals may experience changes in their behavior. These include insomnia, changes in appetite, loss of desire, plus some may partake in erratic behavior like consuming too much alcohol, taking drugs or gambling.

It’s when routine behaviors shift, that they can indicate symptoms of much deeper issues. So if someone is sliding into altered or unhealthy behaviors, there is usually a reason why. Instead of focusing on the behavior, you need to look past them and acknowledge the underlying feelings and emotions that are causing them.

Once these are identified, the feelings and emotions can be addressed. In most cases, it’s grief rearing its ugly head. It’s an exceptionally uncomfortable emotion and people avoid it any way they can. Instead of avoiding grief, it is an emotion that is best tackled head on. The only way to do this is to acknowledge it for what it is. That may be easier said than done because there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There are only healthy and unhealthy alternatives.

Below are some recommended healthy alternatives to survive times such as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, when grief mysteriously appears.

1. Acknowledge grief for what it is.
2. Put extra focus on maintaining your mental health.
3. Eat properly.
4. Avoid alcohol and drugs, including irregular prescription medications, like Valium.
5. Get extra exercise.
6. Know that it’s ok to cry.
7. Talk about your loss and the feelings associated with it.
8. Do things which make you feel good.
9. Avoid isolating yourself.
10. Ask for help if and when you need it.

Lastly, if you or someone you love is overwhelmed with grief, please seek medical assistance. There may be something else wrong, which is masking itself as grief, so if unsure, make an appointment with a GP so they can run tests and make referrals to specialists if required. Look after yourselves and your loved ones and comfort each other in times of need.

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December 7, 2014

Workers are from Earth

Female fans of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus author John Gray were given pause for thought during his recent trip to Australia.The relationship “expert” told women to be “more gracious” in the workplace, “less emotional” and “learn to speak (the) male language'”.

Gray, who has made a fortune by promoting the differences between the sexes,was in Australia to launch his new workplace coaching franchise.

He told Susie O’Brien of the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne that “the Mars-Venus approach says that what men value is not the same as what women value – there are two completely different styles.”

“Once you understand this, you can facilitate communication, trust and positive motivation among staff,” he said.

Oh and women should learn to take it on the chin if someone else takes credit for her work.

“If a woman’s idea is stolen at a meeting, she should ensure she is not seen as a loser by taking it badly. Men, even if they are rejected, will put a positive spin on things and women should be more graceful so they turn a negative into a positive,” he advised.

Well, I’ve worked in Australia, Hong Kong, the US and the UK yet somehow I’ve managed to miss all those men who are fine about having their ideas


Other gems from Gray include:

* That men “often” viewed “emotional behaviour” from female colleagues as a weakness.

* That women need feedback more than men do.

* That men work more independently than women and don’t like to be micromanaged.

* That men should listen more and talk less – to women anyway.

During my more than 15 years in the workforce – four of those as a careers editor – my own generalisations would be that:

* Australians don’t like to be micro managed – gender doesn’t come into it. I have found that most people prefer to be given a task and then the space to get on with it.

* Conscientious people welcome feedback. I have managed both genders and found no difference in their needs regarding feedback.

* Both men and women need to be recognised and rewarded for their professional efforts.

* No one likes to have his or her ideas stolen.

* Australians rate workplace “flexibility” and “time off” as highly as money or even above. It would appear that what men and women “value” is pretty much the same.

* Both men and women are capable of getting emotional when they feel passionate about their work. And why is that so bad?

* People should be willing to listen to their colleagues – not just talk to them. Listening is not a skill only men need to develop and use.

Now do we really need special coaching sessions to learn this sort of stuff?

Column by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne.

To read more career-related stories visit www.careerone.com.auand then click on either “News from your

industry” or Career Resources. Send workplace questions or comments to Send job hunting and workplace questions to editor@careerone.com.au

November 18, 2003