The holidays are full of stressors from shopping to traveling to family get-togethers. But they’re even more stressful for those who have just lost a loved one.
This year in Huntsville there have been more homicides than usual. Local therapists already report more appointments being booked during the holiday season but this year there may be even more people who need support.
Inside a bag in Kim Crawford’s office are giant boards with the faces of dozens of people whose families are trying to make it through the holidays without them.
“Traditions are tough,” said Kim Crawford, Director of the Homicide Survivors Program at Family Services Center. “There’s empty places at the table, people aren’t there to decorate the tree. If they’ve lost a child there’s not presents there to buy for them.”
Crawford has people who call her Christmas morning not sure how they’ll make it through the day. She says it’s important to take the time to share memories and take care of yourself.
“Have a place setting for them, take a moment of silence, whatever they can do to honor those people that they’ve lost but also to bring those memories back around and have that joy,” she said.
The holidays can be stressful even without grief, but eventually the season ends.
“Know that it’s okay not only to grieve during the holidays but also to have some of that joy,” Crawford said. “To know that the stress of the holidays is going to go away.”
Crawford lost her sister years ago to a drunk driver so she understands the impact. If you know someone who is grieving she says the worst thing you can do is nothing.
“Let them know you’re thinking about them, you’re there for them,” she said. “Touch base with them and don’t just do it in just the first week or two.”
She says to not be afraid to ask for support. Her Christmas dinner for homicide survivors Thursday night will have more than 30 people.
If you need immediate help you can always call the Crisis Services of North Alabama hotline at 256-716-1000.