How to help loved ones with grief during the holidays

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - As the holidays approach, so can feelings of grief and depression.

"The holidays just seem like the worst," said Charlotte Anderson who facilitates a suicide survivor support group."Here you are maybe gearing up for a lot of good to happen and your world changes instantly by some type of tragedy."

"It's always there, it's important to be ready for it all times of the year," said Christopher Lacour, a counselor with Charleston Counselor Center. "But this is just the time of year it's going to come up more often than not."

"You go through a lot especially with a loved one," Lacour said."That whole first year, there is going to be a lot of reminders along the way. So you're used to this person who you love and care about very much. Usually they're there for Christmas, for Thanksgiving, their birthday, all those days. So, it's just another reminder."

With grief and depression being prevalent this time of year, it can also lead to more suicides.

According to the CDC's website, nationally the suicide rate is lower in December. But for Berkeley County, the coroner said they see more suicides during the holidays.

Lacour said the holidays are a time when you're expected to be happy and around family and friends, which he said could make feelings of depression and grief worse.

"If you're lonely and something reminds that you're lonely and everyone else isn't, it can really focus you on that and makes someone who's already having a hard time focus on that," said Lacour."It's okay to understand they're going to feel lonely and feel withdrawn and to reach out to them and give them someone to be with and some way to not feel isolated."

"I would really encourage people to remember their loved ones, speak their names," Anderson said."People who have had loss say hearing a memory or a story or their loved one's names spoken may bring tears but they're okay tears. It brings joy and a sense of warmth."

Anderson said it's okay to change tradition, and to do what you can to try and keep positive during what could be a hard time.

"Sometimes I think we get locked into thinking we have to do things this way. You don't," Anderson said. "Create new traditions, leave town, don't put up a tree, put up three trees. It doesn't have to be the same and it won't be. So, make it what you can handle this year. Make it what you want it to be and make it something new."

The Dorchester County Coroner's office said they had not seen any suicides in December this year or last year.

Charleston County Coroner's office didn't immediately return Live 5's call.

The suicide prevention hotline is open any time and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

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