Coping with an “empty chair” this Christmas

TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) – The holiday season is a special time marked by celebrations and gatherings with family and friends, however, health officials know that for those struggling with the death of a loved one the holidays may be a bit more difficult.

The holidays tend to bring out traditions, storytelling and memories – all of which can trigger various emotions. That’s why experts at Tomah Health Hospice Touch say it’s more important than ever to acknowledge what they call the “empty chair”.

“Those that are grieving they may not feel capable of reaching out or know when to reach out,” said Samantha Warsaw, Bereavement Coordinator and Social Worker for Tomah Hospice Touch. “We certainly would encourage people to just pick up the phone, and call them. Sometimes just hearing from another person and knowing that they still have that support system is enough to kind of pull somebody through.”

Advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests connecting and seeking help from others to help with holiday grief. According to Warsaw, it’s one of the most important things.

“Seek out grief counseling or mental health services, support groups or hotlines, especially those that can be offered over the phone or online are very important this year,” she said.

Hospice Touch is a valuable resource that can help people who are struggling with grief and loss. The care center has a host of trained health care professionals who offer various methods of support including regular phone calls and mailings.

For those who don’t know where to start, Warsaw says wanting things to change is the first step toward healing. “Just to be open to the idea of trying to move forward with your grief, in a healthy way, and trying to open yourself up to small steps and looking at the future and how to help yourself move through this because it’s certainly not easy.”

More resources are available by contacting the Hospice Touch Palliative Care offices at 601 Straw St. Tomah, or by calling 608-374-0250.