Calgary psychologist gives tips for navigating loss during the holidays

The holidays are fast approaching and while it is a magical time of year for many, for some others, it amplifies loss.

Losing a loved one is hard at any time of the year, but the void can feel especially heavy during the holidays.

According to Keith Dobson, a clinical psychologist with the University of Calgary, it’s quite common for people navigating loss to repeat the cycle of grief during specific times of the year.

“There’s a concept in psychology called anniversary depression where people around the same time of year as they’ve lost a loved one will go through a period of re-grieving,” he explained.

Reliving traditions can be triggering for some.

“Some of the things that we can do are to remember the person, to honour their memory, to talk about them,” he said.

Dobson says it’s important to check in with one’s mental health and give yourself some time and space to grieve without isolating yourself.

It’s also a smart idea to find creative ways to make new connections.

“For some people it’s volunteering, so if you have the time and energy, that’s certainly something to do. For some people, it’s just a matter of saying hello to the neighbour, reaching out in a more personal way or saying hello at the grocery store, finding connections in more simple ways,” Dobson said.

He also strongly recommends reminiscing with loved ones, saying memories can help to fill the void.

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