With more than 250,000 people dead as a result of this year's COVID-19 pandemic, more families may struggle with an empty seat around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year.
Dr. Ted Bender, a psychologist and president of UnityPlace, said this will be a particularly hard holiday season.
"Joyous and happy as holidays can be, it can also be a strong time of pain, sadness, and anger," Bender said. "Which I imagine will be amplified this year due to how many people we've lost."
Bender said grieving is a natural human process, and people should allow themselves to feel the waves of strong emotions that may come over them this year as they cope with the loss of a loved one.
"Healing takes time. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true," Bender said. "It's a major adjustment after a close loss. And especially during the holidays, it's often when people deal with those the most. It's important to feel those emotions--feel the range of emotions--without judgment."
Bender said rather than the five traditional stages of grief, people often experience strong emotions stemming from loss in waves. He said we shouldn't deny those feelings.
"It creates a lot of chronic stress, which can lead to physical concerns as well, like trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, tiredness, fatigue, general aches and pains," Bender said. "I am concerned for people this year, as we continue to go through this as a nation."
Those who may be struggling can click here to connect with assistance through UnityPlace.
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