Your Health Matters


Health officials encourage people to reach out to those who may be struggling with grief over the holidays

Posted at 5:20 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 20:50:53-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — What is supposed to be a time of happiness and coming together may be the opposite for some this year. With COVID-19 and many businesses shutting down, this holiday season can be especially tough, and even harder for those who may have lost someone this year.

Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services said the one thing to remember for those struggling is that it is normal to feel grief over the holidays, no matter how long ago you lost someone.

"This is going to be a difficult season for a lot of families, a lot of death in Kern County," Cheryl Holsonbake, Mother of Micah, one of the Bakersfield 3, said.

Holsonbake is familiar with grief, her son, Micah was one of the Bakersfield 3 and had gone missing in 2018 with his remains being found later that year.

With the holidays around the corner, it doesn’t make her loss any easier, but there are things you can do to help those who may be struggling.

“Reaching out to families you know that have been impacted in grief, in any way during the holiday season and remembering their name,” Holsonbake said.

“Grief is when you have to reconcile things that are very difficult for you and the emotional turmoil it creates within you, we categorize that as grief,” Bill Walker, Director of Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, said.

According to Walker, no matter how long ago you have lost someone, the holidays tend to bring back emotions.

“There are rituals that embed that person, you could literally be washing the dishes or looking out the window at the backyard and that trigger is a pronounced reaction that may not even have a memory but has emotional content to you. The power of the holidays is that there are just a lot more triggers,” Walker said.

Grief can look different for everyone. People may show signs of depression, self-blame, and even anger.

“A person knows that they are working through the grief when they get to a point of acceptance and acceptance usually still comes with a lot of sadness,” Walker said.

Walker explained that those going through grieving periods tend to drift away from family and friends. Walker recommends that if you are struggling to not be afraid to reach out for help, he also adds that support from loved ones is key.

“Validating people, opening the door to talk, and especially opening a door to do something that is not related to the grief,” Walker said.

“Sometimes comfort is really hard to come by and so, just especially since we are all so distant from each other, reach out to those who have been impacted by death and by grief and are serrated by their loved ones forever,” Holsonbake said.

If you are struggling with grief and notice signs of depression or suicide, you can reach the Behavioral Health Hotline at 1-800-991-5272.