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Grief, Loss and the Holidays

The approaching holiday season is often a time of celebration, but for those who are grieving the death of a loved one it can intensify the many complex feelings they are having as they go through the grieving process. Even if the loss took place years in the past, holidays and special occasions sometimes have a way of making the loss feel fresh again. As a psychotherapist working with children, adolescents, and adults in the Santa Monica and greater Los Angeles area who have experienced the death of a loved one, I have empathy for just how difficult it can be to discuss the topic of grief and loss.

Difficulty processing feelings about the death of a loved one doesn’t happen just during the holidays. I find the following quote to ring true for many people, “When a person is born we rejoice, and when they’re married we jubilate, but when the die we try to pretend nothing has happened.” Death is not something that is always talked about openly in our culture, and when it happens people may not know how to respond. This can cause people to try to convince themselves or those around them that they are “okay” and “fine” when they are still deeply affected by their grief process. In other cases, some people might even refrain from sharing their loss with others for fear that will make others uncomfortable or that no one will be able to understand what they are going through. Often, this only adds the feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression that are a typical part of grief and loss.

Seeking help with your grieving process, no matter how long ago it began can be an essential part of the healing process. There are many opportunities for support groups in the Santa Monica and West Los Angeles areas for bereavement and loss, and often finding a therapist or psychologist to help you process your unique experience with grief can decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. Processing your grief in therapy can create a sense of closure allowing you to hold onto the many positive memories of a loved one without becoming overwhelmed by their absence.

If you need support in your grieving process or if you know someone who has recently suffered a loss and is looking for help, you are always welcome to call my office at (262) 607-2226 or my supervisor Dr. Katja Pohl at (310) 709-4582.

Written by Christopher Marquart, Psy.D. – PSB49022615, supervised by Katja Pohl, Psy.D. – PSY25919