Imagine going Christmas shopping and leaving empty-handed. Eating turkey dinner and feeling empty. And even being surrounded by family and only feeling lonely. Unfortunately, for those who have lost a loved one this year that’s how many Laurel Countians will experience Christmas this year.

But area experts have ways to deal with grief during the holidays.

Rev. Robert White, a part-time chaplain at Marymount Medical Center, and Tracy House, Tri-County Hospice social worker and bereavement specialists had several pearls of wisdom to impart to the grieving:

• Celebrate the memory. “If you try to avoid the subject, everyone will be tiptoeing around the subject like there is an elephant in the room,” House said. She suggested sharing funny moments in a round table, with each person sharing a special memory. “Or it can be something as simple as talking about the person while cooking,” she said.

“Remember that they’re really not gone,” White added. “They will live with us forever in our hearts and minds. My mom is still just as vivid in my memory today as she was 30 years ago.”

• Share your emotions with others who are also grieving. “It’s a way not to feel out in left field,” White said. House said there is a grief discussion group that will begin meeting at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church in February. The group usually meets the first Monday of the month.

• Ask for what you need. Whether that means help with shopping, entertaining, cooking or cleaning, depend on others. Moreover, keep it simple. “If shopping is overwhelming, tell the family you’re not going to be up to it,” House said. “The point is making it as simple as possible for yourself. Give yourself that permission.”

• Break from tradition. It may not be appropriate to celebrate like you normally do. Create new traditions, new rituals rather than rekindling past activities.

• Help somebody else. “Visit a nursing home and visit someone who doesn’t have family, bring them a gift,” House suggested.

• Conduct an Advent. Light four candles in honor of the deceased, White said. The first candle can represent grief, the second courage to confront sorrows, the third to light up memories and the fourth to light up love.

• Resist isolation. “Though you may want to be alone, try to be with those who love you,” White advised.

• Focus on the positive. “When you get in depressed moments, rather than dwelling on the bad, look at the good and blessings of life. That’s an opportunity to thank the Lord for those blessings.”

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