Written by : Transcript – Navigating Grief During the Holiday Season With Gina Moffa 

Transcript – Navigating Grief During the Holiday Season With Gina Moffa

Follow along with the transcript below for episode: Navigating Grief During the Holiday Season With Gina Moffa

 

[INTRODUCTION]

 

[00:00:02] PF: Thank you for joining us for episode 448 of Live Happy Now. Managing grief is a challenge at any time of the year. But during the holidays, it becomes even more difficult. Today, we’re talking about how to navigate your grief during the holiday season.

 

I’m your host, Paula Felps. Today, I’m sitting down with Gina Moffa, a licensed psychotherapist and mental health educator who specializes in treating trauma and grief. Her new book, Moving On Doesn’t Mean Letting Go, offers new tools and perspectives for managing grief and loss. She’s here to talk with me about how we can manage our own grief and how to provide support to others who are grieving this holiday season. Let’s have a listen.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[00:00:47] PF: Gina, happy holidays.

 

[00:00:49] GM: Hi, Paula. Happy holidays to you.

 

[00:00:52] PF: I am so excited to be able to talk to you today because it’s a difficult time for a lot of people right now. Of course, I wanted to – there are so many things that are going on. So many people I know that are experiencing loss. You and I talked about that a little bit before we started recording. It just really led me to say once again I feel like this is a topic that we need to sit down and discuss because we don’t talk about grief quite enough.

 

I wanted to start by talking about your own experience because in your terrific new book, you talk about when you lost your mother. Even though you had been doing this work with others, it was different when it happened to you. So I love that perspective that you give. Can you talk about that story just a little bit?

 

[00:01:40] GM: Sure. Thanks for asking. Yes. It’s kind of a funny tale of the grief therapist that got grief wrong because I thought with all of my training and with all of the tools and the years and the education that I would have kind of a step up in a way, right? There was this arrogance that I came with, thinking I’ve got all the tools. So when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and she was misdiagnosed for a good year, I don’t talk about that in the book. But she went to the doctor, knew something was wrong, tried to advocate for herself, and really wasn’t getting anywhere. By the time they did catch it as a cancer, it was stage four, and there wasn’t a whole lot they could do.

 

There was a little bit of trauma in that of like what – if only, if we only could have caught this. So I felt like at that particular time then when we did lose her that I needed to have some semblance of control. I really thought that having the intellectual understanding of grief would give me a leg up. I could sort of stand on top of the rocks and throw up my flag of victory, and that would be my path.

 

I was sadly mistaken and really deeply humbled because what I didn’t understand at the time was that grief is a full-body experience. If you’re not allowing yourself to feel what you need to feel, and you’re not mindful of how it could show up in your body and really taking very good care of yourself, it will come and knock very hard on your door and sometimes knock you down.

 

That was one of the really, really big lessons for me, but it was also sort of contending with the idea that you could have all of the tools in the world. You could have all of the education, years and years of different trainings, and still be taken down by loss. It’s so much less science and so much more mystery. It was one of my biggest learnings.

 

[00:03:42] PF: I thought that was such an important lesson to share because on the one hand, we might take away like, well, if a grief specialist can’t handle it, how can we mere mortals do it. But instead, what you really show us is, yes, this is a human experience. We can apply all the psychology and the science and the how-tos and should-dos to it. But it’s still an individual personal painful experience.

 

[00:04:06] GM: Yes, absolutely. I think one of the other lessons was that we could also say I’ve gone through different losses, I’ve had a divorce, or I lost a pet, other really substantial life-changing losses. But every single loss is different, and how it comes to us is different, and how we metabolize it is different. So I think that was another lesson in of this is really understanding not only is it personal. But within our personal losses, each one comes with a different flavor and a different way of processing it.

 

[00:04:38] PF: I think that’s such an important point to make because as I was reflecting on that, I was thinking of, yes, I’ve lost both my parents. I’ve lost a beloved aunt. I’ve lost pets. Each one does land differently. Even with, say, having lost multiple dogs, the loss of each dog is different.

 

[00:04:56] GM: Yes, absolutely.

 

[00:04:57] PF: We don’t necessarily give ourselves that grace of just because I handled this well means I’m going to handle this loss exactly like that.

 

[00:05:07] GM: Right. I mean, look, and I hate to say it, but I blame society. We were never taught about grief. We were never taught how to show up for our feelings or how to understand and support ourselves in loss. It’s always just been a hurry up and get over it or cry and feel sadness. But that’s really it, and I think it’s such a complicated, incredibly unpredictable experience. I think if we were taught to do better, we would be able to give ourselves that grace and that patience and the space to show up in whatever ways that loss asks of us.

 

[00:05:41] PF: Yes, because I think, especially with like the stages of loss and things like that, we have this idea that there’s a checklist that we’re going to go through and then move on. That’s not at all what happens.

 

[00:05:56] GM: Right. I’m really surprised that Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages of grief still exists in so much literature because it really was intended when she wrote it to be for the terminally ill themselves, where there would be an end time, right? So the acceptance would be something they would have to come to. But I think one of the things that’s tricky is on the one hand, it’s great that we have kind of a structure of some kind that these are some things we can expect, sure. But that there’s so much more involved in that, and there’s no end time, and that it will with us forever.

 

I think that can be a real shock to people when they come into my office, for example, and I’m saying to them grief will be with you always. People, they’re like, “Wait, what? When do I get to acceptance? I thought this is just I get through these stages, and then I’m better. Now, you’re talking to me about anniversaries and holidays and death days and meaningful days, where it’s going to come up and bite me, and I’m terrified of that. That sounds terrible, but like how do I get out of here?” That’s the realistic view of grief is that our people will always be with us. With that love comes great, great anguish and despair as well. It’s balancing the two for the rest of our days.

 

[00:07:15] PF: Yes. I’m so glad that you bring that up because I think also as observers, sometimes we think someone should be more healed than they are. It’s like, no, if they lost their person, and it’s like I can’t imagine going the rest of my life without my person. Why would I expect that somebody else after a certain period of mourning or certain period of years would be able to just resume their life as if that’s just history?

 

[00:07:44] GM: Right. I mean, imagine somebody going through open heart surgery. You just say, “Okay, great. Get back to working out. Get back the next day.” It’s just we look at loss or we look at even mental health challenges as something that we can just hurry up and get better with because we can’t see it. The truth is it’s as specialized as spinal surgery or open heart surgery when we go through loss. The recovery time is indefinitely in a lot of ways.

 

Obviously, as a therapist, my hope is that we aren’t isolating or ruminating for too long or really getting trapped in the what ifs and the should haves and all of that because that can lead to much more despair and mental health challenges, deeper ones. I mean, yes, I think that we rush people through because we’re scared, and we don’t know better. It’s hard for us to put ourselves in the shoes of somebody’s individual experience because we’re just not good at it.

 

[00:08:41] PF: I would say that’s very, very true. One thing that you introduce in your book is the idea called grief fall. Will you explain what that is? You’re going to say this so much better than I do.

 

[00:08:56] GM: I don’t know. Well, I was thinking of the time that I got the call that my mother had died from my father. I had just called to check in to let them know I would be on the next train. I just had to come back to the city for just an hour to do something and was headed right back. Within that time frame, my mother died, and I got the call. As soon as I hung up with my father, he called me right back and said, “In the time I came to talk to you, your mother died.”

 

It was this moment where I just – it was a portal for me. It was the moment that I knew nothing would ever be the same. It was that call where my entire body felt flushed. I could feel pins and needles in my face. I could feel the blood rush around in my body, trying to find its center. It was an experience that I can recall even telling you right now. But it was, for me, a free fall. I needed it to have a name because I know that we all have this sensation when we get a diagnosis, or we get that phone call also, or we’re holding our pet’s paw. This moment that we know will never be the same, and it’s a free fall. We don’t know exactly where we will land or if we will land or where that will be or what that will look like. It feels like a foreign landscape and another planet. To me, you’re not grieving until you find your landing.

 

It’s that portal into grief, that moment that we know. Everyone can recall a time where they – that remember when moment when I got the news or I lost something or someone incredibly significant to me. It felt important to give it a name because it’s a defining moment for so many of us.

 

[00:10:46] PF: That’s such an appropriate name for it because as you said, like you have one moment where things – it’s the world as you know it. In a split second, everything is different. Everything feels different. You know that it’s never going to go back to being the same.

 

[00:11:02] GM: Yes, yes. It’s the day that I’m walking down a street in Manhattan, and I’m like, “I no longer have a mother. That’s it. For the rest of my life, I no longer have this person who was my lighthouse, who was my due north, the person I needed for the smallest of things.” How long can I keep this chicken in my refrigerator, the things that you would need a mom for and thinking, “Wow, this is it now for the rest of my life.” I don’t even – I haven’t reached the tip of what this actually means or what this will feel like. But I know that I’m in the fall of it. So, yes, it could be incredibly traumatic.

 

[00:11:43] PF: You had alluded to the fact about how grief affects your entire body. Can you talk about some of the ways that grief does manifest itself physically?

 

[00:11:52] GM: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think it’s one of the things we often forget is that grief is a stressor, a huge stressor. All the things that come along with a major stress; increased inflammation, immune response, if you find yourself bumping into things more, if you find yourself exhausted or you can’t sleep, if your appetite has shifted in some way. Your libido is different. People are getting headaches, or they can’t see well. People are having stomach aches. I mean, these are just some of the things.

 

There is such a thing as the mind-body connection, and we know it in theory. But I think we don’t often think about it when it comes to something as much as losses. It affects every one of our systems. We have 12 systems, and the brain is – the nervous system comes into play. It’s scanning for danger. When we are going through a loss, it’s got a lot of work to do, the nervous system itself. It creates anxiety. Our heart races. We get sweaty palms. Our nervous system itself is seeking danger because its actual only job is to keep us alive.

 

When we have a loss significant in our lives, our nervous system will go off and say, “Okay, this is possible. What other danger will happen? What could be next, and how will I ever be okay?” There’s a multitude of ways that grief comes to our bodies, and it could be small ways where you just are having appetite issues, or you can’t sleep as much. But it could be as big as you actually develop.

 

There’s such a thing as brokenhearted syndrome, where you do actually have restricted blood flow to the heart, and you get hypertension, and your entire equilibrium can go off. That’s why I really, really press people. I say it’s not important to have self-care. It’s survival care. You have to – you cannot ignore the body’s doorbell. We have to really figure out how we can take care of ourselves, even when we don’t have the energy, we don’t have the desire, or we don’t have the time, which is something that I said in my book. I don’t have time. I have too many things to do.

 

It was over and over. I just kept moving and pushing until I wound up in the ER with pancreatitis and later on a thyroid disorder. So it was really – when I said earlier it was a humbling experience to go through the grief process as a grief therapist, it certainly was head-to-toe humbling.

 

[00:14:32] PF: Did that change how you approach it with clients at all? Or did it just kind of reinforce what you’ve known?

 

[00:14:38] GM: It did change it because it was one of the things I hadn’t learned in any of my education. Mind you, at the time, I was in graduate school. Actually, including now, there still is no main curriculum that teaches any clinician whatsoever about loss that isn’t either just centered around end-of-life care or spiritual aspects of loss. So I didn’t know. I really didn’t understand how the body could play a part.

 

Now, of course, it is one of the things I talk about the most, which is when we’re in fresh grief, one of the things we have to remember is that grief takes endurance. One of the ways it will show up is it will exhaust you. It’s not a sprint. We’re not trying to get to the end of that fifth step. This is going to be with us over and over in different ways, in different intensities.

 

When we’re feeling overwhelmed or when we’re just enduring a loss, it’s most important to make sure that we’re drinking enough water. We’re getting enough nutrition. We’re getting movement. We’re getting fresh air. That we’re getting enough rest. Even if we can’t sleep, that we’re resting our body. That we’re really just mindful that the body is going to play as equal a part to our processing and experiencing loss as our emotional aspects, so absolutely.

 

[00:15:59] PF: I love that you bring that up. I just love the way you approach it because I feel that’s so often overlooked. I wanted to talk specifically about grief in the holidays. What I was thinking about as you’re talking about it is this is also a time of the year where there is more stress. So even without the grief, let’s look at it. Our schedules are packed. There’s more stress. There’s bugs like the one I have circulating around.

 

[00:16:23] GM: I’m with you.

 

[00:16:24] PF: It’s great, yes. There’s all this added stress and pressure. Now, we throw in the component of grief in the holiday season. So how important is it to be able to address the pain, the agony, the challenges of grief?

 

[00:16:45] GM: I think it’s going to be just incredibly important to become more aware, right? The first few years after a loss can be incredibly overwhelming. For so many people, whether your loss is recent or whether it’s years ago, there is a heaviness that can start to grow for people when we hit the month of November, especially if you were in some ways someone who enjoyed the holidays or had special traditions or rituals with your loved ones who are no longer here.

 

I think one of the things it brings up is the holiday spotlight, everything that we’re missing. It puts in so much pressure to find cheer and look on the bright side and look at the silver lining. It can really feel like a forced sense of cheer when all you really want to do is hide away until January 2nd. But there are ways that you can survive it. Sometimes, I don’t say have a good holiday. I’m like, “Have a holiday.” Have a day. Just get through the day. That’s all it has to be. If it hurts, we don’t have to give it the attention. We don’t have to pretend that. We don’t have to pretend that we’re feeling festive in any way.

 

[00:17:58] PF: I like that you say that because I do think people feel like, “I need to put on a brave face. I need to participate in the holidays. I need to be filled with cheer.” It’s like if you’re not feeling it, you don’t have to do it.

 

[00:18:12] GM: Exactly. I think people are often nervous to tell their loved ones that they don’t want to participate. But I think there’s ways to prepare for the holidays as a griever that can make it a lot easier for you. At the end of the day, it’s what can I do for myself to take the pressure off. We need time for ourselves as grievers. We’re going to need the time to have solitude and self-reflection and to feel our feelings. So we may not be able to do the things that we’ve done in the past.

 

I think communicating that, if somebody doesn’t get it, which we would hope our loved ones could understand. But in the case that they don’t because they are uncomfortable or because they think that being around people could cheer you up, I think it’s okay to say I’m not going to be able to do what I’ve done in the past. I’m not okay, and I’m going to do my best. But if I need to forego this holiday, please forgive me, and please be with me and support me in that.

 

[00:19:09] PF: Yes. I think that’s so important to be able to say, especially because, all right, the holidays have already been forever changed. So if you’re changing one more component of it, that shouldn’t bother somebody else. It’s like I’m adapting to fit my needs, and that’s just kind of how we have to do. It’s about healthy survival. It’s not just about survival. It’s about being healthy throughout that.

 

[00:19:31] GM: Absolutely. Thank you for saying that. Saying no is healthy, and it is self-care. Celebrating is counterintuitive to the way that you’re feeling with loss. Christmas comes around every year. So if you have to skip it, it’s okay. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime event. So I think it’s okay to give ourselves permission to say no is a complete sentence, and it is the highest form of self-care.

 

[00:19:59] PF: Yes, yes. I think that’s so true. When I was about six years old, my favorite aunt and uncle – my uncle died on Christmas Eve. He always played Santa Claus for all the cousins, and he was also – that’s where we did Christmas Eve together, everyone and all the whole family. So everyone was, “We were going to cancel it.” My aunt Lillian was like, “No, this is for the kids. We’re going to do it.”

 

I’ve always wondered about that because I remember that Christmas Eve so clearly because there was not even a sense of loss. There was a sense of joy. It was an awareness that it was different. But there was also such an appreciation because this was still going on in the wake of this loss. It was a very unique experience. I regret that I never asked my aunt about how she felt about that and what that did for her.

 

[00:20:53] GM: That is – no. I mean, what I love about that is that it brings up another angle of the holidays, which is that some people will really, really feel so much comfort in continuing the traditions and continuing the rituals and having their loved ones around them in some way to celebrate the goodness of the person and the special way that they were in the world with people or in the family.

 

That is a way of grieving, too. That grief itself doesn’t have to just look like sadness and isolation. That it can actually look like coming together and celebrating a person who isn’t there in the same ways that we would celebrate as if they were. So I think that’s also really important to point out.

 

[00:21:37] PF: Another thing, and you mentioned this earlier when you talked about this can go on for years, and we tend to think like, okay, someone’s first year is tough. Then, okay, now we’re back on schedule. I think it’s so important to realize that each year is going to be different. I have a friend from high school who lost her husband last year, a great guy. Oh, my gosh. So last year was difficult because all the first holidays, all the firsts without him. As the holiday started coming around this year, I reached out. I said, “How are you doing?” She said, “For some reason, this year is more difficult.” I think people get puzzled by that because we’re kind of taught that, oh, get through that first year, and it gets better. But that’s not necessarily the case.

 

[00:22:24] GM: It’s absolutely a myth. The thing about the first year is that it’s a year of firsts. That is exactly what it is. It is a year of getting used to it. It’s a year of shock, but it’s also a year that more people are supportive. There’s more people around to say, “Hey, I’m thinking of you this Christmas,” or, “I’m thinking of you on so-and-so’s birthday.” The real loss itself hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s when people decide that your morning period is over and life is back as we know it, year two through forever, that the real reality of our losses can sink in. We forget that life does go on, which means that we can have hard days that don’t have anything to do with our loss. But that can make our loss feel harder when it comes about, and so the world at large.

 

When the world is at war, for example, or we’re looking at poverty around us or whatever it is, or we lost a job. It can make losing a parent or a spouse or a child so much harder. We often don’t take that into account. We always sort of isolate our losses. But at the end of the day, it all plays into it and how we metabolize emotions and our experiences.

 

As I’m talking to you, my mother’s death anniversary is this week. I was thinking it’s going to be seven years, and it feels like such a long time. Every year feels different, but this year also feels hard. It could be that we just sold our family home, but it could be that the world is just feeling very uncertain. I think some of that plays into it. So in the air of transparency, it does – every year can feel really different. I remember last year not feeling quite as intense as it does this year. So I think we have to really bring that word grace as a companion with us every single time we’re looking at loss.

 

[00:24:21] PF: Then what tools do you have for dealing with that? How do you make it through each year? If you can’t say, “This is what I can expect,” how do you walk on that path with grief as your companion if it’s going to be a different journey each year?

 

[00:24:38] GM: Yes. It’s really interesting because some of the best advice I can give, even in the unpredictable, is to be prepared. I, for example, will plan getting together with friends and either toasting my mother or creating a meal that she loved and honoring her in some way. That’s the way I like to prepare so that I’m not alone and that I’m with people who loved her or who knew her. We can tell stories.

 

For other people, maybe being alone and watching a movie is what they want to do. So I think even in the unpredictable, we can prepare in a way that we can ask ourselves, okay, maybe I’ll have a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C. I can decide that day, depending on how I feel, if it’s more intense or less intense, which one I’m going to do. But I think what it can help with, and I say this a lot about the preparing for the holidays, is that the worst part is the anticipation and the anxiety leading up to it, the not knowing, right? Having a plan or several plans for that specific day, even if you decide to forego them, can really relieve some of that anxiety of the unpredictability.

 

[00:25:50] PF: That’s a great tip. Obviously, some years, we may be the ones doing the grieving. Other years, it’s someone else sitting in that chair for the first time. First of all, if we’re grieving, how do we let others know what we need? That means even if we don’t know what we need, how do we let them know what we need from them?

 

[00:26:10] GM: Well, I mean, I think this is the hard part. I think letting people know that and exactly this, right? Sometimes, it’s please read this book, right? I have a section in my book that speaks to people supporting grievers. But other times, it can be I really don’t know that I can do this right now, and I don’t want to commit to this. Or, hey, I could use some support this year or some help this year.

 

I think we have to be able to reach out, or we have to be able to communicate if people around us are not getting it or at least being the ones to initiate whether or not we need asking, whether or not we need help. I mean, I think we have to sort of play it by ear and say, “Hey, I don’t know how I’m going to feel this day. But I do know that I’m not going to be able to do as much as I have done before, and so perhaps we can figure that out.”

 

“I’m not going to be able – someone else may have to do the shopping. Someone else may have to do the cooking. Someone else may have to decorate or wrap. I don’t believe I can do that this year. And if I can, then I will certainly show up and do that. But right now, I have to play that by ear.” I think we have to be able to say that.

 

[00:27:25] PF: That makes a lot of sense. Then what if this loss is extremely fresh? Some people have what I’ll call the luxury of it, being a few months since they lost someone as we enter the holidays. For others, it is so fresh, so raw. What’s the best way to approach the holidays and your self-care if everything is still very fresh for you?

 

[00:27:49] GM: I think that really it kind of is the same in a lot of ways. I say often go gently. Be as gentle as you can as you approach the holidays and, like I said, even earlier. Whether it is the holidays or whether it is anything else in our lives, the best advice is to try to still be prepared, even if we aren’t, even if we’re overwhelmed, and even if we’re inundated with things. We’re probably still at the point where there’s a lot of shock and that the information hasn’t necessarily sunk in. Or perhaps we’ve had a sudden unexpected loss, and we’re in the trauma of that.

 

I think is we must expect that the holiday will not be what it was before. But if we don’t have people around us to know that or to help us with what we need, it is really important that we just go as gently as we can plan for the things that we’re able to. But also expect that more often than not, we probably won’t be able to do the things we thought because we’re simply in survival mode. If we want to stay home and eat cookies and sit on the couch and cry, that has to be okay. It’s certainly okay in my book. I think this is the time where we say give grace and not advice, right?

 

[00:29:03] PF: I love that. Yes.

 

[00:29:05] GM: More than anything, what we need is to keep our advice and our opinions to ourselves on how people will spend that day. This is where we need presence and patience for the people that we love.

 

[00:29:16] PF: Yes. Sometimes, bare minimum is quite enough. Getting out of bed, if that’s what you can accomplish that day, good for you. You did it. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for that.

 

[00:29:30] GM: It’s so true. You know what? Some days, though, if it’s Christmas Day and it was important and you need to stay in bed a little bit longer, that’s okay, too. You just don’t want to make a habit out of isolating. Yes. I think that’s what it is. I think the grace comes however we can get through the day. Sometimes, it will be to stay in bed. Sometimes, it will be just to shower. Sometimes, it will be because we have a pet that needs to be walked, so they get us out of bed. Whatever that is, that can be a triumph. Let’s celebrate those little things, just getting through the day.

 

[00:30:05] PF: Is there a point at which you look at it and you say okay? I don’t want to say I should be doing this, but where you say, “Okay, I feel like I’m not making any progress in this grief walk, and I need some help.” What would you say would be the signs that after a certain period of time, you really need help walking down this path?

 

[00:30:26] GM: Sure. I think that time is a tricky thing because we always say time heals all wounds, but it really doesn’t. It’s what we do with the time that matters. It’s how are we using tools or what are we using in the time to connect with other people. Connection in and of itself is one of the deepest healing tools there is; safe, genuine, loving connection.

 

I would say this. If you’re somebody who is ruminating over the loss, if you’re somebody who just can’t accept that the loss has happened, if you are somebody who’s really struggling with the acceptance that this person is gone and/or feel some sense of responsibility, if you are also isolating yourself, like I said earlier, and you don’t want to see people more and more and more, if your daily functioning seems to be lessening day by day, I think these are the times that reaching out for help will be the most vital for you because, otherwise, grief is this full-body experience that will change our lives and throw us off course and throw us off center.

 

That’s not always something that needs therapy, and it’s not always something that needs a support group, although I always encourage it if you want to, of course. That would be – I can’t be a therapist and not encourage therapy.

 

[00:31:45] PF: Exactly. No, you’re fine. Get back out there.

 

[00:31:48] GM: Exactly. For some people, therapy is not it, right? For me, it’s what does therapy provide. A sense of safe connection and validation. That’s for people going through sort of what I’ll call a normal grief experience, where they aren’t ruminating or isolating or feeling responsible or stuck in the throes of trauma. If you are experiencing any of those things, it is really incredibly important to reach out to a therapist or a professional, someone you trust or someone who specializes in grief specifically.

 

[00:32:23] PF: Yes. I do think that’s an important distinction to make because I will never bash therapists. But I will say not all of them were equally skilled.

 

[00:32:33] GM: Oh, for sure.

 

[00:32:35] PF: I have sought help in dealing with certain losses, and the people were not skilled at dealing with loss. That was not their bag. So you really do. If you’re seeking help for grief and loss, you do need to make sure that the person you consult has expertise in that area.

 

[00:32:53] GM: Absolutely. I always bring it back to the doctor metaphor in that same way, which is you’re not going to go to a podiatrist for a heart problem. Because of what I said earlier, people were not receiving specialized grief training and education in graduate school. You have to seek that out yourself. So it is important that if you don’t already have a therapist that you feel safe with that you do, you make sure that you do whatever research you can or have someone else do it for you.

 

Also, even the training itself is not always everything. You have to feel safe with this person or you’re not going to share. You’re not going to be as honest. Therapy is so helpful, but it has to be the right person with the right training.

 

[00:33:37] PF: Yes. That is so true. The last question I was going to ask you is what’s the one thing everyone should keep in mind this holiday season, whether they’re experiencing grief or helping someone else through it?

 

[00:33:50] GM: Earlier, I said something about patience and presence being the biggest gift that we can give somebody who’s grieving this holiday season. It’s also something that we need to give ourselves. If we can be present, allow our feelings, allow the time to feel our feelings, do what we can to take the pressure off of ourselves, plan for our grief. Don’t be afraid to create new rituals or expand on the ones we’ve already had.

 

As a griever and as somebody supporting grief, as I said before, walk beside somebody. Don’t try to lead them. Don’t try to carry them. Don’t try to push them towards healing. Be with them. Be present. Be patient because this is a time like no other in their life. Despite it all, we do remember these moments. As much as we have brain fog, we remember who walks with us on this path.

 

I think the biggest pieces of advice I would say, both as a griever and as someone supporting them, is to be present and patient on this path because it does take endurance, and it can be incredibly lonely.

 

[00:34:58] PF: That’s so well said. Gina, thank you so much for sitting down with us today. You have so much to teach us on this subject. Your book is amazing.

 

[00:35:06] GM: Oh, thank you.

 

[00:35:06] PF: I know that you’re offering a free chapter when they visit our website. We’re going to tell them how they can get that and just a fantastic well-written, much-needed book. Thank you for writing that, and thank you for coming on and talking about grief today.

 

[00:35:21] GM: Paula, thank you so much. Thank you, again, for all you do and bringing the light and the spotlight to something that is incredibly hard to talk about. For all the aching hearts out there, my heart is with your heart. So thank you, Paula, for all of this.

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[00:35:41] PF: That was Gina Moffa, talking about handling grief during the holiday season. If you’d like to learn more about Gina, explore her new book, Moving On Doesn’t Mean Letting Go: A Modern Guide to Navigating Loss, or download a free chapter, just visit us at livehappy.com and click on the podcast tab.

 

That is all we have time for today. From all of us at Live Happy, this is Paula Felps, wishing you and your loved ones a truly happy holiday season.

 

[END]

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