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Holiday season can be hard for people coping with loss due to suicide

Christmas isn’t always easy for everyone, especially those dealing with the loss of someone who they would typically spend Christmas with.

Though there is not an increase in the number of suicides during the Christmas season, the impact of suicides on families and friends increases because of the holiday’s association with family.

Dawn Adkins, suicide information and education services education coordinator and community helpers coordinator, said the holiday season can be hard for people coping with the loss of a loved one from suicide.

“They’re still suffering that loss,” said Adkins. “The perception might be, this may not be your first Christmas without that person, it could be your second or third, so other people in your life may have moved on and you’re still hurting.

“I think they get lost in that sense because Christmas is not going to be the same, ever. There is always going to be that loss.”

Adkins said it is a different type of grief experience where sometimes there isn’t something concrete to blame for the car accident, unlike other types of loss such as a fatal car collision.

“The vast majority of society is in that (Christmas) moment and I think sometimes survivors get lost,” said Adkins.

A survivor is someone who has lost someone to suicide, not someone who has attempted, but did not die. Adkins said a survivor is someone who is left behind after a suicide.

There are support groups in Red Deer for some people, but Adkins acknowledged that route may not work for everyone saying counselling is available as well.

And while support groups and counselling can help people throughout the year, facing Christmas day can pose challenges.

“I think expressing themselves to their loved ones,” said Adkins. “To say ‘you know what, I’m not asking you to put everything on hold for me, but just recognize I’m not in a happy place right now.’”

As well as communication, Adkins said while the day is about family and being together, maybe taking some time to be alone and let the family know that is what is needed.

“Take those moments throughout the day,” said Adkins. “To have that moment of reflection, take a deep breath and recognize everything you are feeling is normal.”

For more information call suicide information and education services at 403-342-4966.

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