BETHLEHEM, W.Va. (WTRF) — The lights, the familiar music, and even the scent of baking cookies in the kitchen.

Christmas is a time when we all feel the strong emotions of people and memories of years past.

But all those reminders are often triggers for those processing the loss of a loved one.

Sherrie Dunlevy is the founder of Graduating Grief, and offers courses to guide others out of their despair.

She says a burst of painful emotion can feel like a wave that knocks us off of our feet.

But waves are all they are, and eventually they’ll roll off into the distance.

So we have a choice. We can feel those emotions when they come, but just like a wave, let it go back out to sea. Because there’s a lot to be joyful for this season too. That’s what I want people to realize, is that we can feel sad, and we can feel joyful, and it’s all ok.

Sherrie Dunlevy, Founder, Graduating Grief

She says it’s important to work out a plan if you expect to see or hear something that will bring back those unwanted memories.

That way you can walk into a store or a Christmas party with confidence over your feelings.

Dunlevy has tip sheets and podcasts for this exact purpose at her website Graduatinggrief.com that can help you through as the Christmas rush pushes past us all.