For those struggling with grief or mental health issues like depression, the holiday season can be particularly difficult. Jill Davis is a peer specialist with Mind Springs Health, which offers counseling services on the Western Slope.
She found herself struggling during the holidays after oldest daughter died of cancer three years ago. She’s written about what it’s like to have an empty chair at the table during this season.
“Holidays magnify loss and grief for people,” she said.
Davis says the expectations surrounding the holidays contribute to depression and stress.
“We see holiday decorations coming up after Halloween, the stores are all decked out and commercials are geared towards big presents and gift-giving. It [surrounds] us. And those expectations — not everybody can live up to them,” she said.
Those who are experiencing grief or depression, Davis says, might feel they have to hide how they’re feeling.
“People have a tendency to just want to push through the holidays and put on that happy face,” she said.
She says the most important thing is to be honest with friends or loved ones. “Don’t keep it to yourself,” she said.
For those who are supporting people with mental health issues, or who have lost a family member or loved one, Davis says, just be a good listener.
“And ask, ‘What do you need at this time?’ To be able to have that option to say, ‘This is what I need’ is very empowering,” she said. “We tend to want to step in and problem-solve and sometimes people just need an ear.”
Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, you can call the Colorado Crisis Service hotline at 1-844-493-8255, or text “TALK” to 38255.