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Holidays and grief: helping the bereaved

For people facing a recent loss, the holidays can be anything but happy. Thanksgiving will kick off a 6 week season of holiday celebrations for many; for others, it will be a sad reminder of loved ones lost. For those who have suffered a recent loss, the wounds are particularly raw and painful, but the effects of loss and grief can recur for many years. Memories of past celebrations with the departed can rekindle the feelings of loss.
Supervisors and HR managers should be sensitive to the fact that this may be a difficult time of year for any workers who have experienced a significant loss within the last year and should watch for signs of depression. Nancy Schimelpfening of offers a brief refresher on the various stages of grief, along with “do” and “don’t” lists offering guidance in ways to be supportive to people coping with grief. The Hospice Foundation of America issues an annual holiday newsletter of tips for coping with grief (PDF), which can be ordered online. Single issues are available at no charge, and small lots can be ordered at a reasonable price – these might be handy to have available for employees. And managers should also be sure to keep the EAP telephone number handy – in fact, for those employers that have an EAP, it’s a good time of year to issue a reminder that services are available.
We’ve found a few good articles on coping with holiday grief that might be useful in helping you to communicate with and support any employees who are coping with grief:

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