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:’ Working through loss of gatherings, traditions of the holiday season

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 Courtenay resident Elizabeth Young, pandemic restrictions mean a new Christmas reality of not seeing her parents – something many Valley residents will experience this year.

What makes it particularly difficult, however, is that Young’s 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.”

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 Valley’s care homes, the holidays this year 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.”

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

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.

Additionally, Shaw said to enjoy the season as much as possible and to give residents a chance to get out of the facility, they have scheduled extra bus trips into the community in the evenings to enjoy Christmas lights throughout the Valley.

“These trips raise spirits and allow us to feel the joy of the season safely.”

At 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. “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.”

She explained this year, staff are focused on honouring favourite holiday traditions and created an ‘advent of activities’ where residents do various things each day to Christmas such as sing carols, making cards and enjoy hot chocolate and stories.

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.

Alastair Hunting, a pastor at St. John the Divine Anglican Church in Courtenay is hoping to offer a space for everyone, regardless of background or faith, for people to acknowledge the tough year, to honour loved ones lost and to publicly grieve.

“We know this year has been hard in general … we want to offer support and it’s important in a small way to acknowledge this and that it is a tough time, and that’s okay.”

The church is holding a Virtual Blue Christmas Service event on Dec. 21(visit sjtdcourtenay.ca/live for more details), which is for those who are grieving or struggling emotionally during the holiday. Hunting said anyone can attend the service and hopes it can provide comfort and give a voice to those who are struggling.

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.



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

From left—Rev. Ryan Slifka (minister, St. George’s); Ellen Wise (elder, St. George’s); Evangeline Mathura, (vice-president, Dawn to Dawn); Grant Shilling (outreach worker, Dawn to Dawn), with a cheque for $10,433.15.
Courtenay church donates more than $10,000 to transitional housing and support service

St. Goerge’s presents Dawn to Dawn with $10,433.15 cheque

A pine siskin is treated for salmonella poisoning at the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society (MARS) hospital, in Merville. Photo by Gylaine Anderston.
Salmonella poisoning in birds and pets a result of unclean bird feeders

Have you ever endured a bout of food poisoning? If you remember… Continue reading

Inside the new shop operated by Wachiay Friendship Centre. Jared Kotyk (left), Jan Kotyk, Paloma Joy, Tim Gagnon, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Corbett and Tally, the shop dog. Photo supplied
Wachiay opens store-front arts shop in downtown Courtenay

There’s still tailor-work in the back of old AnnSew site, with the store in front

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
CSWM plans increase to number of Comox Valley landfill bays

The expansion prompted in part by COVID-19 spacing requirements

Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

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

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Most Read