Grieving should be allowed and supported, Lake County mental health experts say

November 22—As the holidays are a time that can trigger many emotions in those grieving, local therapists encourage them to accept that grief is normal and let it go.

One such therapist is Leslie Gray, who has worked in counseling and social work for over 20 years.

Eight years ago, she opened her private practice, En Pointe Behavioral Services, located at 34950 Chardon Road in Willoughby Hills. Not only does Gray encourage people not to deny their grief, but to find people who will support them, be kind to them, spend time with them, and talk with them about their loss.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s been 20 years or two months,” she said. “The need to talk about the person, to acknowledge that they are feeling the loss, that they are grieving is what needs to be supported and allowed.”

Finding people to talk to about grief safely and who will allow people to feel their feelings can mean finding a support group or a therapist in addition to having someone who is not going to shame or put someone down. ‘He’s still grieving,’ Gray said.

“Go with the holidays if you’re okay with it,” she said. “Being alone can often increase grief, even when it feels like the right thing to do. Being alone can cause depression.”

Doing something to honor someone’s place, whether it’s saying a prayer for them or putting together pictures of them, is among the things people who copy with grief are capable of doing, Gray said.

“Grieving doesn’t follow a specific pattern,” she said. “Just because you go from one stage to another doesn’t mean you’re not going to go back to a previous stage. Sometimes you get to the point where you don’t think about that loss every day. You’re only thinking maybe once or twice a week or once or twice a month, then you go a year without having deep thoughts all the time.You think about the person, but you don’t mourn anymore.

However, it can be a smell, sound or sight that triggers someone’s grief and can cause them to break down for, Gray said.

“(Grief) comes and goes,” she said. “You could spend 20 years, miss your mother, your child or your spouse, do well, but there is no time limit.”

Speaking with people about grief in one form or another on a weekly basis, Gray discovered that there are many reasons for grief other than the death of a loved one and that people may not even realize they are grieving because they are not. think of the loss of a job as something they would grieve over.

“Moving to another city might be something to grieve over,” she said. “Divorce – even if it was you who wanted the divorce, there is always heartache.”

What she finds about the pandemic is that people don’t realize the anxiety and grief they feel about all the changes that have taken place so far, Gray said, and there is still a lot of insecurity about what is happening. happen.

“People want normalcy to be what it was before,” she said. “There is grief about the loss of what we thought was normal in our lives in our country.”

Meanwhile, at 38039 W. Spaulding St. in downtown Willoughby, much of the work Cindy Billittier has done over the years in her private practice has been related to grief in various capacities. A social worker who has practiced for more than 30 years, Billittier said taking time to acknowledge emotions rather than hiding them was important, as well as not using drugs or alcohol as ways to deal with grief. .

Billittier’s clientele is multi-generational and they feel they cross the spectrum.

“I think everyone needs to remember their own self-care and what they need to look younger,” she said. “During the holidays can be a very stressful time because people are running a lot, going to parties or working.”

People’s mental health in general has been affected since the pandemic as there is more isolation and with that people are less likely to seek help, Billittier said. In much of her work, she tries to encourage people to reduce their isolation, stick to an exercise program, make sure they get enough sleep, eat enough, and don’t exert themselves. not too.

In recent years, due to the pandemic, whether they have lost family and friends to the coronavirus or not, people have not been able to honor their loved ones in the same way because people cannot have grand arrangements. funerals, noted Billittier.

“They just had close family or nothing,” she said. “The grieving process has been limited because of that. Now we’re back to people having funerals and memorial services, but for almost two years people haven’t had those traditional celebrations of life. .”

If a parent or loved one died a year ago during the holidays or even in the past year, sadness, emptiness and anxiety ensue, Billittier said.

“It’s a time that triggers a lot of emotions because people are used to being all together as a family,” she said. “Families have traditions, so sometimes people want to keep the same traditions even with the loss of a loved one, but sometimes they want to change them up a bit so it’s not so difficult. It’s kind of to the height of the family in bereavement process.

Some of the things people can do to honor loved ones include decorating a tree with friends and family in honor of someone, laying a wreath at a loved one’s grave dear, to make a memory box or to choose a candle or a flower to place on the table. in memory. Making a recipe that a loved one might have brought to the table is something else that can be done.

“My mom made these really good horseradish carrots,” Billittier said. “I have her recipe that she wrote down for me and I make it every year for Thanksgiving.”

Grieving should be allowed and supported, Lake County mental health experts say

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