Tips for Handling the Holidays

DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE COMFORTABLY AND LET FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW

 Can I handlle the responsibility of the family dinner, etc. or shall I ask someone else to do it? Do I want to talk about my loved one or not? Shall I stay here for the holidays or go to a completely different environment?

MAKE SOME CHANGES IF THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE FOR YOU

Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas morning. Vary the timing of Channukah gift giving. Have dinner at a different time or place. Let the children take over decorating the house, the tree, baking and food preparation, etc.

RE-EXAMINE YOUR PRIORITIES: GREETING CARDS, HOLIDAY BAKING, DECORATING, PUTTING UP A TREE, FAMILY DINNER, ETC.

Do I really enjoy doing this? Is this a task that can be shared?

CONSIDER DOING SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR SOMEONE ELSE

Donate a gift in the memory of your loved one. Donate money you would have spent on your loved one as a gift to charity. Adopt a needy family for the holidays. Invite a guest (foreign student, senior citizen) to share festivities.

RECOGNIZE YOUR LOVED ONE’S PRESENCE IN THE FAMILY

 Burn a special candle to quietly include your loved one. Hang a stocking for your loved one in which people can put notes with their thoughts or feelings. Listen to music especially liked by the deceased. Look at photographs.

IF YOU DECIDE TO DO HOLIDAY SHOPPING, MAKE A LIST AHEAD OF TIME AND KEEP IT HANDY FOR A GOOD DAY, OR SHOP THROUGH A CATALOGUE

OBSERVE THE HOLIDAYS IN WAYS WHICH ARE COMFORTABLE FOR YOU

 There is no right or wrong way of handling holidays. Once you’ve decided how to observe the time, let others know.

TRY TO GET ENOUGH REST — HOLIDAYS CAN BE EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY DRAINING.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

 Holidays often magnify feelings of loss. It is natural to feel sadness. Share concerns, apprehensions, feelings with a friend. The need for support is often greater during holidays.

KEEP IN MIND THAT THE EXPERIENCE OF MANY BEREAVED PERSONS IS THAT THEY DO COME TO ENJOY HOLIDAYS AGAIN. THERE WILL BE OTHER HOLIDAY SEASONS TO CELEBRATE.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN

 Laughter and joy are not disrespectful. Give yourself and your family members permission to celebrate and take pleasure in the holidays.

Reprinted from *Bereavement & Loss Resources* a publication of Rivendell Resources Rivendell Resources grants anyone the right to reprint this information without request for compensation so long as the copy is not used for profit and so long as this paragraph is reprinted in its entirety with any copied portion.


A Sample Holiday Letter to Friends and Family

Dear Friends and Family,

The holiday Seasons is a time of peace and happiness; a time of family gatherings and a bond of closeness felt more strongly than on any other holiday of the year.

There are also very different emotions surfacing now for those of us who have experienced the death of a child, sibling, or spouse. We may be angry, depressed, fearful or we may just not care. There may be a deep consuming anguish for those having their first holiday; a few tears and the remembrance of “how it used to be”, for those experiencing the second, third or twenty-third holiday.

There are times when it is too painful to tell you how we feel, or why we act a certain way. Sometimes we don’t know ourselves. We can’t tell you why today; hearing a song, seeing a child going into a store, seeing his/her favorite food, should bring memories and tears, when yesterday it didn’t.

We may want to change things this holiday, do things differently than we have in the past. This is our way of coping with the Holiday. Please take our feelings into consideration when making your plans.

For some of us, shopping, buying gifts, can be difficult or extremely painful. It seems you always have to pass, or find yourself in, that section of the store where you no longer need be. Small tasks that we did last year, remain undone. They may not seem important, we may not have the energy, or they are just too painful to do.

Please don’t tell us to turn off our memories, to snap out of it, that he/she is dead and life must go on. We, more than you, know our loved one is dead. But our love for them doesn’t end with death. All we have left of a very special part of our lives are the memories, and they return at unexpected times, filling us with the intense longing for what is not more. Yes, we fully realize that he/she is dead, gone forever, and that is what hurts.

Please have patience with us. Try to understand why we are acting or feeling the way we are today. With a small look or gesture, let us know it is all right with you for us to love, to cry, to remember. We aren’t doing it to make you uncomfortable or to gain sympathy. We are just trying to cope. Please help us “make it through” this Holiday season.

– Author Unknown


Pictures with Santa at The Healing Center!

What: Pictures with Santa
Where:
The Healing Center
When:
Sunday, December 8th, 1-4pm
Why:
Because Santa at The Healing Center is way better than Santa at the mall!
Cost:
Donate as you can ($50 donation encouraged)
RSVP: If you can, please tell us you’re coming – we’ll have cookies saved just for you : )

Come and have pictures with Santa in a calm and supportive environment, away from the crowds and the bustle of the malls.

Along with St. Nick photo ops and high quality pictures printed onsite, there will also be tours of The Healing Center, holiday refreshments, and plenty of space for children to play while you wait for picture time.

 

Ho ho ho!

I’m not really Santa, but Santa really will be at The Healing Center!


Wishes to You

Dear Healing Center Friends,

We have found here at The Healing Center that the holiday season can be an exceptionally stressful time for many of us. When you have experienced the loss of a loved one, it can often feel overwhelming to navigate all that is expected of you. When you are trying to merely survive each day, this added pressure can sometimes feel like too much.

Now, especially, is the time to reach out to your supports and tap into your resources. For some, a support might be a massage, a warm bath, or writing in your journal. For others, it may be calling a good friend who understands, reaching out to another group member, taking a walk in nature, or doing something creative.

Whatever you do, it is equally important to ask yourself “Do I need this? Do I want this?” And of course, don’t forget when you are making plans to create an escape route. Plan A is always an option, but have you thought about a Plan B or maybe even C?

Remember, you always have options. Ask yourself or others for what you need. Even if you change your mind several times, go with what feels most comfortable to you. Most importantly during this time, be gentle with yourself. In doing this you are honoring not only yourself and family, but your loved one as well.

As always, The Healing Center wishes to extend to you and your family grace and peace during this holiday season.

Your Healing Center Support Team,

Dani, Tom, Rebecca, Lisa, Jane, Scott, Michele, Marshall, Mary, Jill, Jeanne and Brian


Workshop with Kath

SURVIVING THE HOLIDAYS WORKSHOP

with THC Founder, Kath McCormack and Art Therapist, Michele Koger

WHO: All Healing Center Clients

WHERE: The Healing Center

WHEN: November 6, 2011   from 1:00pm to 5:00pm

COST: $75 per person (Scholarships are available)

RSVP: lisae@healingcenterseattle.org or call (206) 523-1206

 

When you are grieving, the holidays can often feel tough to get through.  Please join us for a day of group support, meditation/reflection/visualization, holiday rituals, and creative expression all designed to give you and your family the tools needed to navigate the holidays with grace and peace.

This workshop is $75 per person and as a non-profit, with generous donors, we do not turn anyone away for lack of funds.  Please let us know if you are interested in a reduced fee scholarship or a bill to turn into your insurance for out of network processing, and we will be happy to work with you.

We hope you will take advantage of this great opportunity to receive a little extra support for the Holidays.  Hope to see you there!

Dani, Kath and Michele


The Solstice: It only gets so dark

In my life, many family members and friends have died.  The first was my father when I was 12.  Then, in the next several years, all of my mother’s brothers and sisters (my aunts and uncles) died. My first boyfriend died when I was in my twenties and then my best and oldest friend died when I was 35.

I know that my experience of so many deaths is unusual.  On the other hand, experiencing the death of a loved one is hard no matter if it is one or a hundred.

As I got older I grew to hate the holidays. The sense of loss and sadness made hearing Christmas carols painful and smiling shopper’s faces too much to bear. A few times I have run away to tropical places to avoid the holidays.  It helped some, but did you know that even in Hawaii people put lighted snowmen and Santa on their front lawns?

Then I discovered a holiday that I could celebrate – The Winter Solstice. The Solstice is a day that marks for us the longest night, the shortest day in North America and often here in Seattle, the darkest day.

The Solstice tells me that a day can ONLY get so dark and so short before it will get lighter and longer. That day gives me hope that the same might be true for my grief and sadness. There is hope that the light will return. The Solstice is an invitation to hold on to hope and watch for the signs of light and healing.

Now I gather with friends for a Solstice Soup party on that longest night of the year. We celebrate hope and healing. Perhaps this may be a holiday for you as well.

Peace,

Libbie

Winter Solstice this year is on December 21.