Coping with loss during holidays can take toll on mental health

CHARLOTTE — According to the CDC, COVID-19 killed more people in 2021 than in 2020. That means more people are coping with the loss of a loved one this holiday season -- and it can take a major toll on their mental health.

A behavioral health expert at Atrium Health told Channel 9 those people may feel guilty while enjoying themselves this time of year, but it’s important to take comfort and cherish those around you.

Therapists also said sometimes people need space as part of the grieving process, but finding the right balance of being alone and with others is key.

“You can’t expect things to be normal or exactly the way they were before,” said Ruth Benca with Atrium. “How we cope is an individual process. Taking time out for yourself and slowing down, being able to take care of yourself, is first and foremost important.”

Experts said it’s important to take the time for self-care. That includes sleep, exercise, getting outside, and eating a healthy diet.

If you know anyone dealing with grief or a loss this holiday season, here are some things you can do to help:

  • Acknowledge the loss and share your memories.
  • Include them in your holiday plans, but don’t be offended if they decline.
  • Realize that grief is an individual process and there’s no timeline.
  • Don’t pressure them to move on or take part in activities.

As Channel 9 focuses on mental health this week, we will be looking at how to identify concerns and deal with them. We’ve developed a guide so you can find the proper resources in your county.

(WATCH BELOW: Study finds correlation between poor sleep and mental health issues)

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