A blue Christmas? Take the time to grieve and understand what you need, says psychologist


Not everyone will be singing Christmas carols or decorating hallways this Christmas and that’s okay, says a psychologist.

Janine Hubbard, president of the Association of Psychology Newfoundland and Labrador, says that if loved ones have passed away this year or in previous years, vacations – which typically include rituals and family time – can cause feelings of loss. more intense loss.

“Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve,” Hubbard said. “It’s a very individual process for everyone.”

Whether people choose to share memories or decide to have a muted party, everyone has a right to know how they are feeling and need to grieve, Hubbard said. In time, however, Hubbard said there are ways to encourage those who have died to celebrate traditions again.

“I have a Christmas baking tradition that reminds me of Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s every year,” Hubbard said. “These are the ways in which we can find some of these rituals, these traditions, so that our loved ones continue with us in a fun way.”

From left to right: Jovie Esguerra, Epitacia Bruce, Josie Estoque and Salve Achacoso. Achacoso said Bruce was like a second mother to her while raising her children. (Submitted by Katherine Achacoso)

It will be a different Christmas, say the family of Epitacia Bruce, commonly known as “Aunt Pitt”. Bruce was the first registered Filipino to come to Labrador. She arrived in 1965 and taught throughout Central Labrador.

Bruce passed away on November 15.

Salve Achacoso said her sister was her confidante and like a second mother to her as Achacoso was the youngest in her family of 15 members. When Achacoso started having children of his own, Bruce took on the role of grandmother.

“It is this great aunt who has a big heart that is enough for everyone in the family,” said Achacoso.

All the sisters of the Epitacia Bruce family. From left to right: Jovie Esguerra, Pablita Enable, Carmelita Matugas, Pitt Catre Bruce, Josie Estoque and Salve Achacoso. Epitacia Bruce, “Aunt Pitt” passed away on November 15, 2021. (Submitted by Katherine Achacoso)

Maricar Matugas-Ballantyne said her aunt was larger than life, with a smile and kind words to everyone. Now the family is preparing to leave for the holidays without Bruce, along with one of Achacoso’s other siblings and her husband, who passed away this fall, adding to the family’s grief.

“It’s very painful,” Achacoso said. “Knowing that I have to be strong for the family, I have to be able to show them that strength has its merit in that there will always be fights in life, but you have to keep your head above it.”

Matugas-Ballantyne agreed, saying it was hard to get into the Christmas spirit, but it gave him a chance to reflect and learn.

“Time spent with loved ones is very precious and is not forever,” said Matugas-Ballantyne. “We have to make sure we tell our loved ones that we love them because you never know when you will be able to see them for the last time.”

Don’t force the holiday spirit

Hubbard cautions against forcing yourself into the Christmas spirit, and says practicing kindness is key during the holiday season.

Understanding that emotions can be unpredictable, she suggests, can help ease the burden.

Psychologist Janine Hubbard says it’s important to take the time to grieve that you need this holiday season. (Meghan McCabe / CBC)

For those supporting someone suffering the after-effects of a death, monitoring them is essential, she said.

“It’s always a good idea, anyone, whether they’ve lost someone or are just alone over the holiday season to reach out,” Hubbard said.

As the holidays approach, Matugas-Ballantyne and Achacoso hope people will remember their sister and aunt as a happy person who was always there for others in times of need, had a big heart and wanted to shoot. the best of every moment.

“I hope I can be like her in terms of living fully without regret,” said Matugas-Ballantyne.

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