Christmas and the holiday season will be very different for many people this year thanks to restrictions in place by the pandemic. Pixabay photo

Christmas and the holiday season will be very different for many people this year thanks to restrictions in place by the pandemic. Pixabay photo

‘This too shall pass:’ B.C. residents work through loss of holiday gatherings, traditions

Finding ways to manage and process the changes COVID-19 presents to seasonal plans

It won’t be the same, but it’s the right decision.

For Elizabeth Young, pandemic restrictions mean a new Christmas reality of not seeing her parents — something many B.C. residents will experience this year.

What makes it particularly difficult, however, for the Courtenay resident is that her father, who lives in Victoria, has just finished cancer treatments and can’t talk on the phone very well. She’s taking a step back navigating the new reality of what the holidays will look like this year, but also accepting what the change will bring.

“…It’s also a bit of a relief to not have to worry about travelling and co-ordinating visits – what if the weather gets bad and things like that? After all the stress and uncertainty this year, I’m actually looking forward to just spending a few extra days at home to rest.”

RELATED: Loneliness taking toll on Canadian mental health in COVID era, study finds

RELATED: B.C. seniors worry more about death from loneliness than COVID-19

Young had the opportunity to visit her family before the provincial travel restrictions were put into place, and she’s looking forward to heading to the south Island for a visit once restrictions are lifted.

“We’ll FaceTime on Christmas so I can see my parents, my sister, brother-in-law and my niece and nephew. It won’t be the same, but it actually feels like the right decision for all of us.”

For those at some of the B.C.’s care homes, the holidays will be focused on finding and creating joy within. Jolene Shaw, community relations manager at Berwick Comox Valley Retirement Community admitted while the year has been difficult, their team is making the best of the situation for their residents.

“We are in the company of people that have endured much in their lives, including world wars. This too shall pass.”

To make Christmas at the Berwick extra special, Shaw explained they are planning to take their residents to Hawaii – or rather – to bring Hawaii to them.

They creating plane tickets and are planning a celebration on Dec. 17 alongside ‘flight attendants’ who will meet residents at the dining room and will offer them a small snack and drink once everyone has gone through ‘flight safety protocol.’ An ‘inflight’ Hawaiian meal alongside hula entertainment will follow, and Santa will join at the conclusion of the meal.

At another care home, Glacier View Lodge, designated visitors are allowed through their COVID-19 protocols, but visits are done in a careful way, noted Liz Friis, director of resident lifestyle and community programs. While activities in past years such as choir and musical performances can’t happen in the same way, staff are finding ways to make events work. Various groups are set to sing outside the lodge while staying socially distant and keeping to their respective bubbles.

“Some visitors can’t come in, so we have lots of options such as a microphone space, a window and we can do FaceTime or the phone.”

The new reality restricting gathering and travel combined with the usual stress of the holidays is making the loss of traditional celebrations “really tangible and undeniable” explained Caroline Bradfield, a registered clinical counsellor with Comox Valley Counselling.

She said the reduced connections to other people along with the lack of traditional rituals and ceremonies this year is adding to a growing sense of overall loss. It’s an emotion our culture has a tendency to move past quickly without spending time processing.

“We have a way of dismissing our own pain and losses; we minimize and ignore it. When we think about humans coping and our stress, humans cope in a couple of different ways. We either over-react and make ourselves too busy or we under-react and isolate and check-out.”

She said humans love to problem solve, and while it is an amazing characteristic, it can also lead to trouble as not all problems are solvable, such as some grief, loss or change.

Sometimes the best way to work through the emotion is to find “someone there in our corner” who will truly listen, validate feelings and empathize.

“If we can listen, and be there with them and not try to fix the losses is a huge part of healing for healing in solidarity. Understanding validates feelings, and it makes us not feel so alone. Loneliness is so crushing; it puts us in a place of helplessness and hopelessness and humans don’t do well in that realm.

“Just to have someone there to turn to is really helpful.”

Looking for places to turn for help? Call the BC Mental Health Support Line (no area code needed): 310-6789; it’s free and available 24 hours a day. The Suicide Hotline is available if you are in distress or worried about someone else; it is free and available 24 hours a day: 1-800-784-2433.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Police called to Surrey home for report of weapon, man taken into custody

Surrey RCMP say people evacuated from house, one found in a bedroom ‘hiding from police’

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram has recorded his first NHL career point (Rob Wilton/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants Bowen Byram records first NHL career point with Colorado Avalanche

Player with Langley-based WHL franchise assisted on goal against the Ducks

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Most Read