How to Cope With Loneliness & Depression; During the Christmas Season!

How to Cope With Loneliness & Depression; During the Christmas Season!

The Christmas season is a time of parties, celebrations, and get together’s with family and friends. Yet for many people, it can be a time of intense loneliness.

This is especially true if someone has suffered the loss of a baby during pregnancy, a loved one you are close to and they are experiencing the Christmas season for the first time. How should a person cope if this is the first Christmas holiday alone? What resources available to them? What are the hardest things are they to cope with?

Able to discuss this and more is Sharon Brown Keith, author of the critically acclaimed book, Mockingbird Moments. Ms. Keith writes about how survivors cope with the death of a loved one, and has devoted a portion of the book to dealing how survivors cope with the holidays alone and how to overcome the depression.

This is my interview with Ms Sharon Keith;

1. Who are you, what’s your education and where are you from?

My name is Sharon Brown Keith. I live outside Tyler, TX . I am married, with two grown sons, and work part-time as a JH counselor. I graduated from Nacogdoches High School, and have a degree in Education from Texas A&M University. I also have a masters degree in School Counseling from the University of Texas at Tyler.

2. What experience do you have with issue?

I lost my father very suddenly in 1992, when I was 29 years old and expecting my second child. He died on October 20th, and his birthday was Oct. 23rd. We were immediately immersed into all the “firsts” you go through when you lose a loved one.

As a school counselor, I have also dealt with students who are grieving, as well as the loss of students who attended our school

3. Have you ever dealt with depression and how did you overcome it?

Yes. I dealt with depression following the loss of my dad, but it really didn’t manifest itself until years later. I tended to push my feelings aside or “stuff” them down, rather than dealing with them.  My depression was more “situational” and I was prescribed a low-dose anti-depressant which I took for several years. After dealing with the issues that caused my depression (my father’s death and trying to move forward with my family and all the demands that go with being a working mother) I stopped taking the medication. I am not encouraging or discouraging medication. Each case of depression is different, and it is up to that person and his/her doctor as to how it should be treated.

4. Who did you lose in your life around the holidays and how did you deal with it?

I lost my father, and I didn’t really deal with it very well for many years. I always felt a great sense of loss during the holidays. It always felt like someone or something was missing. I had a very deep void or hole. I thought my feelings were normal, since I wasn’t unique in losing a loved one. In retrospect, I believe that I should have talked about it more, and reached out to other people. All grieving people want to talk about their loved one and, and just want to have people who will listen. Friends/family shouldn’t try to give advice, or suggestions. They should just listen. For me, I finally was set free when I wrote my book, Mockingbird Moments. Michelangelo stated, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” This is how I felt when I finished my memoir. I saw the story, and when I finished writing about my dad, I felt I had set my feelings of sadness and loss free. It was extremely cathartic and helped in my healing.

5. What are the statistics are there on depression and loneliness during the Christmas and New Year season?

I don’t know actual numbers, but I do know that depression tends to rise around the holidays due to the expectations the season brings. People overwork, over-decorate, overspend, and basically overdo it. We all long for the perfect, idyllic holiday, when there is no such thing. It is very important to manage your expectations. And if you have lost a loved one recently, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Know your limitations and accept that it is okay to not be the hostess, or not have the over-the-top decorations. Everyone grieves differently. There is no timeline. Decide which traditions to keep, and which ones to change. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to celebrate during a time of loss is to give back, either to the community, by volunteering, or by adopting an angel on the Angel Tree. Any time you do a random act of kindness, you will be blessed. Thinking of others takes the focus off of yourself, and allows you to make someone else happy. And that’s what the season is all about.

6. What kind of resources are available to lonely people and depressed people out there?

People can reach out to pastors, clergy and other religious outlets. Community resources are available, as well as many websites. Grief.com is a great resource, as it not only gives tips for those who are grieving, but also gives tips to people who want to help someone who is grieving.

7. What can other people do to help lonely and depressed people out of their hole?

Grieving people really just want to talk. They want to share memories, and feelings and keep their loved one alive by talking about them. Listening is most important. Also, checking in on them in the months ahead is important. Send a card, bake some cookies, meet for coffee. Just let the person know they are still in your thoughts, and that you are there for them if they need someone.

8. Can you be lonely and depressed and still be around other people celebrating?

Yes, most definitely. Being around other people is healthy, although it can be draining. I follow the “fake it ‘til you feel it” theory. Although it is hard to think about celebrating when you’ve lost someone, the anticipation of events is usually worse than the actual event. It is also okay to laugh and enjoy yourself. Don’t feel guilty about this. Your loved one wouldn’t want you to be sad.

9. What are the signs that others can look for, to help the lonely and depressed during the Christmas Season?

Social withdrawal, anxiety, extreme sadness, irritability, and loss of interest in things.

10. What is the awareness level of these issues across the USA?

Due to advances in technology and social media, I think awareness of these issues has increased dramatically from 1992, when I lost my father. It is very common these days to hear news reports on radio and television about this issue. Social media sites are also great outlets for this information.

But, there can never be enough information and awareness about depression, during the holidays or otherwise. This blog is a great way to spread information about the topic of depression during the holidays!

For more information on Sharon and her book https://www.sharonbrownkeith.com/

If you know of anyone suffering with loneliness and depression during the Christmas season please reach out to them and communicate with them. Try to get them talking, if that doesn’t help then love on them and pray for them.

Other Resources:

Coping With Loneliness During the Holidays

Surviving Loneliness Over the Holidays

Holiday Blues: 3 Ways to Cope When You’re Lonely This Season

9 Tips for Beating Loneliness During the Holidays

 

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