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Dealing with grief and depression during the holidays

Updated on December 9, 2015

It can be especially difficult during Christmastime, when everything around you is about lights, candy, togetherness, and love, if you’ve lost someone. I have been personally dealing with the long-term effects of grief from the passing of my beloved cat and grandmother in close succession. This time of year, for myself and many others, also can bring the scourge of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that only comes at one particularly point during the year. Here are the means of dealing with these issues.

The information age has brought just about everything one can think of to one’s fingertips via the internet. As such, many online bereavement support groups exist. As I deal with the loss of both a pet and a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I seek out voices and media that will aid in my healing process. I’m not just talking message boards, here: Twitter has an excellent pet-owners community that rallies around all pets who go “over the rainbow bridge” (#otrb) with much love and compassion. For recent passings, you can have the option of contacting the Aviators Club, an adorable, virtual tribute flight featuring cats and dogs wearing tiny old-fashioned goggle helmets flying imaginary World War II era planes. I also highly recommend a video I watched by HorrorStudio1. Despite the name of his Youtube channel, this video in particular highlights stories of pet owners being comforted by the spirits or presences of pets they have lost. Twitter and Tumblr also have excellent support networks for mental illness if you are dealing with depression or any other mental health issue.

Coping with SAD

HorrorStudio1's wonderful video for those mourning pets

The Aviators Club on Twitter

Books are also a good way to process grief. Despite my being far from Christian, I do deeply enjoy the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Another classic go-to is Tuesdays with Morrie. If you’re like me and find solace in the metaphysical, any book by James Van Praagh or another famous psychic medium should do well to dispel your fears of where your loved one has gone.

Depression during the holidays can be difficult to address when the skies are overcast and the sun sets very early in the day. My go-to is walking, provided I have the physical spoons for it. When that’s not the case, I’ll draw. Watch something funny to get the endorphins going (as of late, I’ve been addicted to Parks and Recreation on Netflix).

Always remember that there is nothing wrong with seeking help if you feel very despondent. I have been to the emergency room several times for mental health-related crises. The National Suicide Hotline is also available at all times (including now a transgender specific one). Seek an appointment with a professional, or find an understanding, non-ableist friend to discuss your feelings with. I emphasize non-ableist because some people are unfortunately very hostile towards the open discussion of mental illness. I have some in my family. Don’t let anyone shame you for how you feel or for seeking help.

There is a reason for Christmastime having a very high rate of suicide and alcohol-related deaths: because the popular culture pushes consumerism to fill the hole more and more. Take it from me, this does not suffice. There’s nothing like genuine human compassion to fill you up rather than attempting to let capitalism do it for you.

Finally, turn to faith. I, the Satanist, am not going to poopoo anyone’s coping methods. If you feel good when you pray, commune with a higher power, or imagine dancing angels, all the power to you. Christmas was, after all, originally a pagan holiday, and as such, the veil is thinner between our world and the next, as is on Samhain (Halloween). It’s very easy to tap into otherworldly energies this time of year, and imbibe the restorative light of spirit. It does an aching heart well to reach towards the higher plane and feel the love that’s there.

Contact your guide

So this holiday season, ignore the sales, ignore the snow, and take your meds if you’ve got them. We’ll get through this winter crap together.

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I remember one speaker saying, "We can't get rid of January by simply tearing it off the calendar!" Living in a climate where the sun sets early can be depressing during the winter. To me Christmas is the bright spot because of all the lights and excitement in the air. Being a Christian during this time helps, but having mental illness doesn't. It is easy to get down, lonely, and depressed. Like you said, the consumerism doesn't fill the void! Recognizing that the void is there is a big part of our coping mechanism. Finding other ways to be fulfilled is necessary. I enjoy participating in the musical community. It gives me a way to give without it costing a lot of money. I also try to find others who need a friend and help them not feel lonely.