All Posts By

Kim Floyde

Young man with glass of whiskey at home (photo)

Drinking Habits During COVID-19

By CMH Blog

A slippery slope: using alcohol to cope with loneliness or isolation during COVID-19

In many ways, COVID has brought us closer: we’re laughing over interruptions from our pets and children while on Zoom, we’re sharing resources, and many of us are joining virtual happy hours to connect with our friends and loved ones. But what happens when the phone battery dies, the internet connection is unstable, or we feel like it’s just not the same as being with someone in person?

Suddenly, loneliness and isolation return, and we look for relief elsewhere. Maybe it feels like time to have another beer and stream a new show; suddenly, hours have passed and we’ve drunk a six-pack. Or we’ve opened a bottle of wine to have a glass with dinner, and we decide we might as well finish the bottle. Our current situation has led many of us to turn to alcohol as a way to cope, leading us into what’s called “gray area drinking.”

Gray Area Drinking
Gray area drinking isn’t the same as excessive drinking, which includes both heavy drinking and binge drinking. The CDC defines heavy drinking as 8 or more drinks a week for women, and 15 or more drinks for a man. Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in a 2-3 hour period for women, and as having 5 or more drinks for men.

In her TedTalk on gray area drinking, Ms. Park, the founder of Healthy Discoveries, describes her own experience with gray area drinking: she’d quit drinking for a while and then wonder why she was being so restrictive. She’d start drinking again, thinking she could have a single glass of wine, and find herself finishing the whole bottle in an evening. She’d drink wine most evenings, which put her into the excessive drinking category defined by the CDC. She was engaged in gray area drinking—the space between occasional drinking and rock bottom drinking. Gray area drinkers function capably, don’t usually have major consequences to their drinking, like a DUI or losing a job, but their drinking is problematic.

Right now, we can feel disconnected, worried, isolated, and scared, and in our desire to cope with our feelings, we sometimes turn to alcohol. How can we determine if we might be in that gray area? Ms. Park outlines the following five signs:

  1. You silently worry about, and regret, your drinking.
  2. You drink between two extremes: you’re not at rock bottom, but you aren’t an occasional drinker either.
  3. You can stop drinking and you have stopped drinking for periods of time—even weeks or months—but it’s hard to stay stopped.
  4. Your drinking often doesn’t look problematic to those around you.
  5. You ricochet between telling yourself to stop drinking, and deciding that you’re overthinking and you just need to “live a little.”

How to Make a Change
Gray area drinking can be a slippery slope, and stressful times, like a pandemic, can make the slope even slipperier. What else can we do to fend off isolation instead of reaching for a drink? Ms. Park suggests the following:

  1. Ask yourself what you really want.
    Alcohol often feels like an escape from frustration, anxiety, and stress. Instead of drinking, we can ask ourselves what is driving our desire to drink and what we really need. What do we feel is lacking? More quiet time? More connection? Do we want more fun, purpose, or intimacy? We need to recognize that alcohol won’t give us any of those things. As we give ourselves more of what we’re really craving, the perceived need for alcohol will diminish.
  2. Add a few new things to your life
    Once you’ve made the decision to take a break from alcohol, look at what you can add in. Maybe it’s time to foster spiritual growth or new relationships. Start a new exercise routine, finally cook that meal you’ve always wanted to try, or take time to develop your emotional and spiritual well-being.

Using substances to cope is not unusual, and this pandemic is making it more common, but there are things you can do to cope. If you think you need more help, you are not alone, and there is a lot of help and support available to you.

Useful Resources
If you are feeling lonely or worried, we offer 24/7 phone support via The Center Support Line at 970.252.6220.

If you would like to learn more about treatment options, reach out to The Center for Mental Health at 970.252.3200.

Take a free, online assessment at centermh.org/help.

We also offer free access to an online mental health support tool called myStrength at centermh.org/mystrength.

Sources
Jolene Park, TedTalk: Gray Area Drinking: ted.com/talks/jolene_park_gray_area_drinking
CDC definitions of excessive drinking: cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/excessive_alcohol_use.pdf
Lone Cone Mountain

CMH Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

By News, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact
Kateylyn Metcalf
970.252.3218

The Center for Mental Health Expands Services and Moves to New Naturita Location

Naturita, Colorado – May 18, 2020 – The Center for Mental Health in Naturita has a new location as of May 1st, 2020. Previously located at Basin Clinic, The Center for Mental Health (CMH) has moved to a new building to better serve the behavioral healthcare needs of the local community.

CMH is appreciative of the Basin Clinic and the opportunity of working together over the past several years and plans to continue the important community partnership in future endeavors. To continue growth and expansion of the mental health resources CMH offers in the community, the location has moved inside the Vista Realty offices at 212 E. Main St. in Naturita.

At this new location CMH will be providing behavioral health counseling, substance use treatment services, and psychiatric appointments. Clients of CMH will also have phone and video teletherapy access to all services which include:

  • CMH Naturita LocationIndividual Therapy for All Ages
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Psychiatry and Medication Management
  • Substance Use Counseling
  • DUI Services
  • Psychological Evaluations
  • Peer Services

Clients will have private, secure access to the on-site, in-office teletherapy system to easily access any CMH programs and providers across the six-county region The Center for Mental Health serves. This location will be open by appointment only – call 970.252.3200 to make an appointment.

Laura Byard, regional director at The Center for Mental Health says “We are committed to serving this community and expanding access to our programs with this new location. We are actively looking for a locally-based clinician to serve this important area.”

In addition, residents of Naturita have access to the services offered by the Crisis Walk-In Center centrally located in Montrose, open 24 hours a day, 7 days week.

The Center for Mental Health is a nonprofit organization seeking to promote mental health and well-being. It provides behavioral health services across 10,000 square miles including Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, and San Miguel counties. Visit www.centermh.org to learn more.

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Thoughtful man looking out window

Coping with Substance Misuse

By Services

What is Substance Misuse?

Throughout history people have used substances to alter their ways of thinking and feeling. This has provided a relief or an escape from the sometimes monotonous experience of daily living. Mood altering substances have also been used recreationally to enhance enjoyment of certain activities or events. Societies have varied on their definitions of which substances are permissible from a legal standpoint and on the ages at which people are determined to be able to exercise sound judgement regarding the use of these substances. For our purposes, we are talking about alcohol and certain drugs as the focused substances in these considerations.

A pandemic can create certain challenges regarding the use or the misuse of drugs and alcohol. While drug or alcohol use may not be problematic in normal conditions, the stress and disruption caused by a pandemic can produce patterns of use that may involve using more of the substance than is commonly used, or using the substance more frequently or for a longer period of time than is typical.

When patterns of drug or alcohol use become extensive, they tend to bring accompanying features of dysfunction and often result in different problems. Some of these negative outcomes can be physical, such as withdrawal when the period of use is stopped, or they can be social, such as how other people are treated when someone is under the influence. In addition, the effects can be behavioral such as being unable to discontinue use or engaging in activities that are dangerous to perform under the influence of the substance, such as driving.

How can I recognize when there is a problem?

The first realization of a problem that someone misusing substances, or people close to the substance misusing individual, may have occurs when problematic patterns of misuse continue even when the person expresses regret for their use and intent to make a change. Knowing you don’t like how you are using drugs and alcohol or how you act when you are under the influence, but being unable to make a change, are signs you likely have a problem with substance misuse.

Recognizing the problem and acknowledging that it is a problem is the first step. This is sometimes difficult as it is not always something someone wants to admit is true about themselves. Supportive and direct conversations may be needed to bring this recognition about. Sometimes these conversations have to be repeated before they make a difference and the person fully acknowledges that their drug or alcohol use really is a problem.

What do I do when I recognize the problem?

There are many different options when it comes to addressing substance misuse. These range from self-help strategies, to group meetings, to professional help.

Self-Help Strategies
Once someone recognizes they are misusing drugs or alcohol, they may want to make an initial attempt to change their pattern of use on their own. The inability to follow through with this intent is a sign the problem is more serious than the person may realize. It is at this point the substance misusing person will need to get help from other people and resources.

Group Strategies
Admitting their problem to someone identified as a helping individual is necessary for the help from others to be effective. Recovery support meetings and 12 Step groups consist of other people who have struggled with substance misuse themselves and who have discovered solutions. Many of those people involved in these groups see helping other people misusing substances as an important step in their own progress. Often, they call this progress their recovery.

12 Step or recovery support meetings are in just about every community. During a pandemic, they are more easily and safely accessed online. An online search for these meetings reveals that there are meetings happening somewhere in the world that can be accessed via computer just about every hour of the day or night.

Professional Strategies
Professional help becomes necessary when the negative effects of someone’s misuse of substances are extremely harmful or when non-professional support groups have not proven sufficient. Professional help may need to vary in terms of the kinds of services that are provided and the intensity of these services. For example, some people whose misuse of substances has created patterns of physical dependency and withdrawal need medical treatment as well as psychological treatment if they are going to safely make a change to their patterns of use. Medical professionals should be consulted as someone takes the beginning steps to discontinue substance misuse.

The intensity of professional treatment services for substance misuse can vary from weekly meetings with a counselor to inpatient hospitalization, with many levels of treatment intensity in between. Treatment intensity is determined based on need, and a thorough assessment by a treatment professional is necessary to determine the level of care needed.

Substance misuse treatment is provided to individuals and often also to groups of people. Interactions with other people also working to overcome substance misuse can be a very helpful and rewarding part of treatment.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding substance use or misuse issues.

May 2020

Coping with Relationship Issues

By Services

We depend on our relationships with others from birth on. Some relationships are chosen for us, like our parents and siblings; some relationships are of our own choosing. Close relationships are part of what make us who we are. Healthy relationships are integral to our happiness and well-being—they support us and can help us to be our best selves. In times of stress and crisis, however, we can be hardest on those closest to us.

Interacting with a significant other can present its challenges even in the best of times. People are different in terms of what they think, how they feel, and how they act. Each person’s background is uniquely their own. Differences make us appreciate one another, but they can also be a cause of frustration as well. We may not understand why someone close to us acts or thinks the way they do because it is so different from how we act or think. It is important to always remember people have their own reasons for doing the things they do even if it doesn’t make sense to us. Giving another person the benefit of the doubt can go a long way in helping maintain the close relationships that are important to us.

Most people say they are at their happiest and greatest level of well-being when relationships with people close to them are warm, intimate and rewarding. Conversely, most people list relationship problems as one of the biggest causes of distress in their lives. The stress and disruption caused by a pandemic can lead us to take out negative feelings on people closest to us. This can create a vicious cycle as people close to us respond negatively because of how we are treating them.

What can I do to create and maintain a healthy relationship?

People in close relationships are most likely the best experts about their relationship. Relationships are as different and varied as the people who are in them. Relationship dynamics, or how a relationship works, can be healthy and unhealthy. Relationships built on trust, compassion, understanding, and devotion are healthy and lead to deep feelings of satisfaction for both people in the relationship. On the other hand, relationships that are full of conflict, disagreement, arguing, and even violence are unhealthy and have a negative effect on the people in the relationship and often even on other people around them.

Improving a relationship takes tremendous time and effort. For most people, maintaining a positive relationship is some of the hardest work they ever do in their lives. Even people in relationships who seem to have it all together and who make it look easy will say they were only able to get there after a lot of work and effort.

Time spent together is the most important ingredient in a successful relationship. Limiting distractions, focusing on each other, and really listening to each other are necessary building blocks for a healthy and happy relationship.

Many books and online resources have been developed to help partners strengthen and maintain strong relationships. Some couples are able to take advantage of these resources to help them through turbulent times. Other couples, however, find that they need an outside party, someone not involved in the relationship itself, to help them recognize and overcome negative or harmful ways of interacting with each other.

Professional Strategies

Professional relationship counselors are trained specifically to be able to intervene and identify changes that can be made to improve relationships. In addition, they have many hours of experience working with a variety of couples, helping to bring about change in their relationship dynamics so there is a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in the relationship. Often, these counselors focus on patterns of communication; they help couples improve how they express themselves to each other and how to better understand where the other person is coming from.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding relationship issues.

May 2020

African American middle age woman looking sad

Coping with Loss and Grieving

By Services

Throughout life, we have meaningful relationships with other people. These people can be in our lives for different lengths of time, sometimes for very long and sometimes only for a short time. Regardless of the length of time we have them in our lives, losing them when they die can create significant sorrow and feelings of loss. Grief or grieving is the emotional response we experience when we lose someone close to us. Grieving can affect not just how we feel but also how we act and how we think. Beliefs we have about that person and about what happens to them after they pass play a big role in the grieving process.

There are actually many different kinds of loss that can lead to feelings of grief. For some people the passing of an animal, a dear pet, can be just as difficult as the passing of a person. Children can feel a similar sense of loss when someone close to them moves away or has to be gone for a long period of time. Grief is powerfully affected by the sense that we won’t see that person or animal or be with them for a long period of time, if at all.

What is the process of grieving?

Many authors and researchers have made attempts to define the process of grieving. They have tended to focus on certain steps including denial, anger, bargaining, resolution and acceptance. What seems to be true about all of these grieving processes is just how different they are for every person. Some people pass through the stages of grief as described in these models. Other people may skip steps or go through the stages in a different order. Finally, some people seem to come up with their own steps that have not been identified before. The important fact is that everyone grieves differently, and everyone has different reasons for grieving a particular loss.

You may be grieving the actual loss of someone close to you during, and perhaps as a result of, the pandemic. You may also be grieving other losses that have occurred such as the loss of important opportunities or events as a result of the pandemic.

What can I do to help with my feelings of grief and loss?

At some point in a grieving process, it becomes important to talk with someone else. That point can be different for every person, and it is important to never try to force someone to talk if they are not ready, or if they feel like they don’t need to. When the time is right, listening is more important than talking. The listener should pay attention not only to the feelings that the person is expressing but also to what they are thinking and what was important to them about the person, pet, or experience they have lost. Simply repeating to the person what they said to show you are listening can be helpful. More helpful, however, is to really try to understand why they are feeling the way they are. This requires a certain kind of listening that tends to be done more with the heart than just with the ears.

If you have lost someone close to you, or if you are grieving any kind of loss, simply acknowledging you’re grieving is a good first step. Some people find it very helpful to consult with spiritual advisors they trust or resources about an afterlife to gain a sense of perspective that works for them and helps provide them with understanding about the loss.

Professional Strategies

When grieving starts to take on the features of prolonged depression, someone may need to seek professional help. Other people close to a person, or the person themselves, may start to notice the grieving process is taking longer than they think it should, or that it is having a more significant negative impact than they think it should. When this happens, it would likely be beneficial to talk with a helping professional who can assess the particular experience with loss and grieving and help accompany the person to a better place of healing and improvement.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding loss or grief issues.

May 2020

Depressed man sitting on bed

Coping with Depression

By Services

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Sustaining this state of well-being can be a challenge even when the stresses of life are normal. But global stressors such as a pandemic can make it even more difficult to maintain this sense of well-being, and we may become susceptible to mental health conditions such as depression during this time.

What is Depression?

Depression has to do with mood: our state of mind or how we are feeling. Mood can fluctuate during normal, non-stressful times and even during the course of a single day. We may have a range of feelings that vary from feeling very happy, joyful, competent, and hopeful to feeling sad, discouraged, frustrated, or lonely. While we all have different ranges of moods or feelings, most of the time our moods stay within certain limits, allowing us to function so we can participate fully in our lives.

Sometimes, however, mood can begin to drift outside this normal range. Some people can get so happy and overexcited that they are not able to focus on their daily activities, or they are not able to sleep at night. This condition is referred to as mania.

Depression is the opposite of mania. Depression sets in when someone feels sad, discouraged, afraid, alone, and down, usually for more days than not. These feelings seem to persist even when the person is engaging in activities they usually enjoy. Depression tends to linger as an undercurrent throughout every aspect of a person’s life, and they often feel helpless and hopeless as attempts to change how they are feeling produce little difference. There are, however, strategies and treatments that can help.

Treatments

Treatments can be divided into two categories: self-help and professional help.

Self-Help Strategies
Self-help strategies involve actions that you can take on your own to help with depression. They can include talking to someone close to you, perhaps a dear friend or family member, and sharing what you are feeling. A good listener and an offer of caring support can sometimes be enough to help turn the tide of a depressive mood. Other self-help strategies include reading positive books, listening to uplifting music, or even reading books about depression that provide step-by-step exercises to begin making a change.

Many self-help books focus on making a change in thinking or cognitions. Mood is powerfully affected by the things we think, and if we are able to make changes in our thoughts, becoming more positive, hopeful, realistic, and fair, our mood will often improve as well.

Professional Strategies

Sometimes, even with our best efforts and those of other people close to us, we may find we are not able to change a depressed mood. Someone may find they are tired all the time and have no energy. They may sleep too much, or they may sleep during times when they want to be awake, and then not be able to sleep during times they want to be sleeping. This may go on sometimes for days, weeks, or even months.

When a depressed mood reaches this level of constant disruption, and when we are not able to change it, we likely need to seek help from a professional who is trained to treat depressed moods. Family doctors or psychiatrists can help identify whether or not an antidepressant medication may be warranted. Professional counselors, therapists, or psychologists can help provide not only understanding and listening, but also individualized strategies to help lift someone out of their depressed mood. Most people who are struggling with depression who fully engage in counseling feel better over time, especially if they also take a properly prescribed antidepressant medication.

Time spent isolated and disconnected from normal routines during a pandemic can sometimes foster feelings of depression. It is important to recognize depression early on and then to seek help when it is indicated.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding depression.

May 2020

Angry, stressed-out woman

Coping with Anger

By Services

Anger is often misunderstood as only a negative emotion. Anger is a natural response to something that is threatening or potentially harmful. As such, anger can be a healthy reaction in some situations. Other times, however, expressions of anger can be excessive and unwarranted. Angry expressions can damage relationships and can be bad for your health. In its most extreme and unhealthy form, anger can lead to violent and destructive behavior.

What causes anger?

People experience feelings of anger for many different reasons. Simple frustrations are normally tolerated and dealt with; however, if they seem to occur in rapid succession with little chance for recovery or resolution, they can lead to building feelings of anger. Other times, a situation is judged to be so completely unacceptable to someone that they feel they have no other choice but to respond in anger.

Anger is also sometimes referred to as a secondary emotion. That is because anger can cover up other feelings such as fear, embarrassment, shame, disgust or sadness. Anger is also multi-layered because it exists not only as a feeling but also as thoughts we have and actions we take to express what we are feeling.

Almost always, we see causes of our anger as being outside of ourselves. However, thorough analyses of anger have shown that it is much more about what we think as opposed to the things that happen outside of us. Proof of this is the fact that similar events can happen to two people, and one will get angry as a result while the other person will not. Therefore, changing how and when we become angry has a lot to do with changing how we think about things.

During a pandemic, people have lots of thoughts about what is happening around them. They have thoughts about how the pandemic was started and who or what they think might be to blame for it. In addition, they pass judgment on how they think other people are responding or should be responding to the pandemic. Job loss, financial strain, isolation, lost opportunities, and health conditions all contribute to feelings of frustration and anger.

How do people cope with anger?

Most people don’t like to feel angry; throughout their lives, they develop ways of dealing with their anger. Many people discover they are able to talk to themselves and calm themselves down. Others find that by breathing deeply, closing their eyes and changing their thoughts, they are able to lessen their feelings of anger.

There are times, however, when someone may find themselves unable to stop feeling angry. Even with their best efforts, they may find that feelings of anger seem to sneak up on them. They find themselves getting angry more often than they would like and being angry with people or situations that don’t deserve the anger. People closest to them are often those who suffer the most as a result. The angry person may have tremendous feelings of regret following a display of their anger, and they may recognize they need to get help learning to control their anger.

Fortunately, there are many avenues of help available to learn to better manage anger. Books and online resources that provide guidance about how to thoughtfully make changes to expressions of anger are easily accessible.

Professional Strategies

Professional help is available to identify causes of anger and to develop strategies to better manage it. A trusting relationship with a nonjudgmental professional counselor provides the foundation to begin making initial positive strides to manage anger. Success in treatment tends to provide a feedback loop—the more successful one is at controlling anger, the more hopeful they become and the more effort they make for continued improvements.

The Center for Mental Health is a resource for community members to get help when they need it. Please contact The Center for Mental Health at 970-252-3200 if you would like to work with a professional counselor regarding anger issues.

May 2020

Telephone support line

Coping with Grief During COVID-19

By CMH Blog

During this time of uncertainty amid the pandemic, we are in grief—we’re grieving all sorts of losses, big and small: the loss of expectations, the loss of normalcy, the loss of vacations, graduations, physical connections, even grocery shopping as we used to know it. Many people I know are also grieving the loss of a loved one, whether through the pandemic or through some other means. I recently lost my mother-in-law to ovarian cancer, and in some strange way, we were lucky enough to lose her before the pandemic set in. We were able to visit with her in the hospital, to be together as a family during her illness and death, and to participate in many of the traditional and comforting rituals such as holding a funeral with several hundred mourners and a lovely celebration of life afterwards where our family gathered to meet
with extended family and friends.

Yet even though we were able to begin the grieving process this way, the pandemic has magnified it and made it that much more difficult, especially considering all the many little things that we are grieving now as well. I have cycled through the stages of grief outlined by Swiss-American psychiatrist Kübler-Ross whose 1969 book
On Death and Dying argued that grief could be divided into five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her theory of grief is the most widely known, though there are others. Not everyone goes through all the stages of grief, nor do they necessarily process them in the order listed by Kübler-Ross. Members of my family experienced her death differently, but it was clear that we were, and still are, experiencing the stages of grief outlined by Kübler-Ross. And the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the grieving process that much more difficult.

For those of us who have lost loved ones during this time, or are experiencing grief in many parts of our lives, often unexpectedly, how do we deal with that grief in a healthy way when many of our traditional, comforting routines and rituals have been upset by this pandemic?

Though the magnitude of the events we’re grieving may differ greatly, from the loss of a milestone like graduation to the loss of a loved one, there are things we can do to help us process the grief in a healthy way.

Families of students who were poised to graduate and move on to a new and exciting stage in their lives have found other ways to celebrate than through the traditional parties and ceremonies. Sharing photos and memories virtually, through social media, has become an endearing and charming way to support graduating students. And it may help to bring us together—there’s nothing like chuckling over graduation pictures that are twenty to thirty years old to support students graduating now. Sharing those embarrassing and funny memories creates new connections and webs of support.

The family of a friend who lost her father-in-law maintained the rite of passage of a burial for him—it looked different, of course, given the restrictions and concerns of the pandemic. They held a Zoom burial; family members were able to say prayers and to bear witness to the ceremony as they said goodbye to her father-in-law. They were able to feel supported and loved, and to show the love and grief over the loss of a loved one, by seeing their family members on the phone with them.

Whatever kind of grief you’re experiencing right now, know that many others are grieving with you. Some of the following might be helpful to deal with our grief during this uncertain time:

  1. Spend time texting and talking on the phone with others. We all crave connection, and though it isn’t quite the same as seeing someone in person, it is still a valuable way to connect.
  2. Share funny childhood photos—this helps to enable the sharing and processing of memories, whether in the celebration of a graduation and new start, or in the commemoration of a loved one who has passed away.
  3. Share memories, stories, hopes, goals, and plans. Envision what these goals and plans will look like in action when the time comes.
  4. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, know that there will be a time that you will be able to come together with friends and family to celebrate the life of your loved one. Take the time to plan for this and imagine what it will look like.
  5. Be sure to take time for yourself. If you live with others, it can be difficult to find time alone. Try to carve out time to take a walk, watch a movie that you enjoy, read a book you’ve wanted to but haven’t had the time to.
  6. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and get physical activity. Get outside—the fresh air will be good for you.
  7. Take time for yourself to do those things that make you happy and allow you to push forward in your life.

It can be hard to deal with the loss of something or someone in the best of times. Unusual circumstances like a pandemic can magnify that loss and difficulty with coping. If you find that you are really struggling to cope, seek professional help. Let us help you find a support group, reach out to The Center Support Line, or look into therapy
services with us.

The Center Support Line: 970.252.6220

A free, 24-hour talk line is open to our community during difficult times. If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or just need someone to talk to, call — we can help. Call 970.252.3200 to learn more or to make an appointment.

Written by Kate Hurley, The Center for Mental Health

Grief Resources

The Center for Mental Health maintains a free, 24-7 support line for those experiencing grief, or anyone feeling anxious or in need of a listening ear: 970-252-6220 or centermh.org/supportline.

The center also hosts live Facebook chats for coping with COVID. For new and current clients, the center has secure, tele-therapy sessions available. Call 970-252-3200 to learn more about same-day access services or visit centermh.org.

The center’s walk-in crisis center remains open for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis; location is 300 N. Cascade Avenue, Montrose.

People in crisis can also call 970-252-6220 or 844-493-8255.

Funeral urn with yellow roses

Coping during COVID

By News

Viral emergency changes funeral practices

Saying goodbye is an important step in grieving, but the COVID-19 emergency has put traditional funerals on hold, which can affect the grieving process.

The state’s transition from a stay-home order to the slightly looser safer at home order does not change the restrictions on large gatherings: there can be no more than 10 people, including for funeral services.

“Our concern is protecting the community, but we will plan on doing what the state guidelines (say), in keeping groups down to 10 or less for any type of burial or memorial, and we encourage people to have a memorial service that everyone can attend when the ban is lifted,” director Daryl Pridy of Crippin Funeral Home said.

Taylor Funeral Home in Delta is also going by the state guidelines, director Chalmer Swain said. That mortuary also encourages people to plan memorials at a later date.

“If we have a graveside service, we hold it to 10 or fewer, or immediate family only,” Swain said.

Both funeral homes conduct burials by setting the services up in a way that does not require staff to be close by. Instead, critical staff remain at a distance to observe and then complete burials after the mourners have gone.

“The ban isn’t necessarily because of the deceased person. It’s because of everyone else,” Pridy said.

The state is limiting gatherings to reduce the opportunity for spreading the coronavirus, which causes a potentially deadly respiratory ailment. People can have the virus, but not yet show signs. Events like funerals also tend to attract people from many locations, which further increases the possibility of contact with an as-yet asymptomatic person.

Survivors do seem to understand the limitations, Pridy said.

“This has been in the front of everyone’s mind so much. Everyone we’ve dealt with knows about the ban. I think they’re mentally adjusted, for the most part. We’re not breaking a surprise to them. Everyone has been pretty good to work with in that way,” Pridy said.

“I do think it has an effect on the family, where not all the close friends and relatives can attend. I do think it is a more emotional experience for the family.”

People may experience feelings of guilt or lack of closure and isolation because of the changes, said Amanda Jones, chief clinical officer for The Center for Mental Health.

“Individuals who are experiencing the loss of a loved one during this time are not only managing a personal loss, but also the loss of rituals and traditions that help us with the grieving process,” Jones said. “Ways in which some individuals honor someone who has died, such as funerals or other gatherings, have been limited or simply not organized because of health-mandated restrictions.” “Despite these challenging circumstances, there are ways that we can support ourselves and others during this difficult time.”

The situation is not the fault of the bereaved, nor does it lie in their control, Jones said, adding there is no right or wrong way to experience loss. People can still reach out to others and connect with others who are grieving. They can take time to share memories.

“There will be a time that you will be able to come together with friends and family to celebrate the life of your loved one, so allow time to think about how that might be in the future,” Jones said.

Those who are grieving also need to take care of themselves, by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and physical activity.

“Take time for yourself to do these things that also make you happy and allow opportunity for pushing forward in your life,” Jones said.

The funeral homes continue following universal precautions when they take charge of bodies, regardless of how the person died. Pridy said Crippin staff treat all remains as though the person might have had a virus, and wear protective gear to protect themselves, as well as people living in the residences or facilities where staff arrive.

In instances when the deceased is believed to have had COVID-19, mortuary workers place a mask on that person’s face, too, in case air expels from their lungs as they are moved.

“We don’t want to be carriers and spreaders of it. That’s why we are maintaining our distance and doing everything by phone or email,” Pridy said.

Crippin and Taylor have been conducting much of their business by phone and email, as well. The relaxation of state restrictions may allow them to have a few more in-person meetings, but with social distancing and other precautions in place.

“I think we’re all ready to get back to normal, if that can ever happen again. It’s very hard when you see the families and you can’t help them,” Swain said.

“We may be able to meet with people on more of a one-to-one basis,” Pridy said. “We’re looking forward to everything being over and the state being opened up, but business will remain (as is) until they raise the group ban, as far as funerals.”

Montrose Daily Press
Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | April 28, 2020
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Resources for Bereavement Services

The Center for Mental Health maintains a free, 24-7 support line for those experiencing grief, or anyone feeling anxious or in need of a listening ear: 970-252-6220 or centermh.org/supportline.

The center also hosts live Facebook chats for coping with COVID. For new and current clients, the center has secure, tele-therapy sessions available. Call 970-252-3200 to learn more about same-day access services or visit centermh.org.

The center’s walk-in crisis center remains open for those experiencing a behavioral health crisis; location is 300 N. Cascade Avenue, Montrose.

People in crisis can also call 970-252-6220 or 844-493-8255.