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Avoiding Holiday Depression
Written by Clara Hinton   |  Dec 11, 2001
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, laughter, and good cheer. This is also a time when the radio constantly plays old-time favorite Christmas carols, houses are glittering with decorations, and the stores are filled with busy people rushing to finish the last of their shopping.

For the person who has experienced child loss, this holiday season of joy might well turn into a season of “blues”. It is very easy to slip into a time of stress and anxiety related depression, even if you are a person not prone to experience negative emotions. Even if depression does not enter your life, you might develop headaches, excessive drinking, the inability to sleep, and overeating as a result of having a difficult time adjusting during the holiday season.

Holiday depression can be avoided, and there are several very practical things that can be done to ward off the holiday blues.

· Don’t expect your holidays to be the same. You have lost a child, and that is a major heartbreak. Allow yourself the necessary break away from past routines.
· Just because it is the holidays doesn’t automatically mean you can set aside all of your emotions and put on a happy face. There might be temporary outbursts of tears, sadness, or anger. That is normal, and to be expected.
· Avoid alcohol. As tempting as it might be, alcohol will only add to your depression, not help it to go away. Drink healthy fresh fruit juices instead.
· Recognize that loss brings about changes. You will not feel the same because things in your life have been dramatically changed by the loss of your child. Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself.
· Find one person you can talk to who will understand you. It is important to know that you have a friend who will listen. There are several depression hot lines available 24 hours a day with trained personnel able to offer you instant help and guidance. Pick up the phone and make the call if you feel you are in need of a listening ear.
· Don’t set yourself up for additional pain by trying to carry on past traditions. You can’t make things “just like they used to be.” When you have suffered through the pain of child loss, nothing will ever be quite the same. This is an ideal time to begin some new family traditions.
· Find one person you can help. Even though this is an old cliché, it’s one that works. When you do something for another person, you take the focus off of your own problems momentarily, and you feel something very special—“someone needs you”. You are given purpose, and that helps you in your healing.

Getting through the holidays after going through child loss is not an easy thing to do. However, by taking the above precautions you can be more aware of your “blues” and keep a certain amount of control over a very painful situation.

Remind yourself often that grief is very hard work. It taxes you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Grief takes a lot of your time and energy. You cannot hide from it, but you can face it with some positive tools that can help.

Above all else, be kind to yourself. Make allowances, especially during the holiday season.
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