Upcoming holidays: a time for cheers or tears

Posted by

Fall, the change of seasons and the upcoming holidays stimulate memories of days gone by for some. For others, it is the start of new beginnings. Neighborhoods around our homes are filled with sounds of giggly children jumping in piles of leaves; Thanksgiving and winter holiday decorations are popping up everywhere. For children of all ages, the anticipation of special foods, family traditions, homecoming celebrations, colored paper turkeys and Santa is almost palpable.

People with epilepsy and those who care for them may experience anxiety as external stimulation and excitement about the coming holidays ramp up, affecting normal sleep patterns and potentially increasing seizure likelihood. One mother stated, “I feel like my ability to protect my child is so much more difficult; I feel out of control and scared.”

For some families, sounds, sights and smells are powerful triggers, stimulating deep pain and grief as they remember a loved one gone too soon from complications of epilepsy. Many are still in shock over the sudden death of their loved one because they believed epilepsy was a disease their family lived with, not something their loved one could die from. This often leaves families perplexed, confused and sometimes immobilized. In my own private grief counseling practice, fall is a busy time of year. Triggers occasionally cause a flood of unexpected emotions they previously felt they mastered, even if their loss was some time ago.

Holidays increase demands on us. This time of year may require restructuring your life to accommodate the additional stress.

Give yourself permission:

  • It is okay to express your feelings.
  • It is okay to do less.
  • It is okay to change traditions and create new ones you can manage.
  • It is okay to grieve and be scared.
  • It is okay to provide good self-care.

Authored by: Linda Coughlin Brooks RN, BSN, CT

Linda is the SUDEP Institute Grief Therapist who will be contributing regular articles as part of our bereavement support services. You can contact Linda at sudep@efa.org. Watch for future articles and learn more about our support for bereaved.

Logo Flame White

Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, Inc. • Copyright © 1994-2015 All rights reserved.
1600 University Ave. W. Suite 300, St. Paul, MN 55104
800.779.0777