Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. That grief can be compounded during the holidays. However, there are several ways to cope with the grief.
Keri Walker is one of thousands in southern Colorado who is mourning the loss of a loved one. "We were very close," Walker said. Her mom, Linda Rieth, passed away in October 2009 after a tough battle with skin cancer. "It was difficult but my mom had prepared us, as best as she could prepare us," she said.
Walker is a speech writer and former instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy. When she enlisted in the Air Force, her mom moved to Florida.
For five months, Walker flew back and forth from Colorado Springs to Florida. For Walker, like many other service men and women a loved one's passing can be especially difficult when so far from home. "It doesn't' get any easier, it doesn't get any better, it just gets manageable," Walker said.
"Grief is a process that takes a long time," Deb Kinnan said. Kinnan is Walker's grief counselor; she's also the Bereavement Manager at Pikes Peak Hospice. "What you're feeling is intensified at the holidays, if you're missing someone, you're going to miss them more," Kinnan said.
The hospice runs a 13-month grief program. The program is designed to help people get through that long first year. "A lot of people struggle with that, they think they should feel different, they should feel better, they should be happy because it's the holidays,” she said “They should be over it by now."
Often people grieve for a long period of time. Walker said in the weeks leading up to Christmas last year, she worried that it would be a sad day without her mom. "The lead up to the holiday is much worse than the actual holiday itself," Walker said. Thanks to the hospice program, Walker was able to get through her grief fairly easily.
Walker learned a valuable lesson in the program. "It's okay to cry, it's okay to think you're crazy at times,” she said. “It's okay to ask for help."
For more information on the Pikes Peak Hospice program click the link below or call (719) 633-3400.