Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

A Holiday Gift Bag for You

Monday, November 5, 2012
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Now that Halloween has passed, the attack of the holiday season seems to be upon us.  By us, I mean us grieving people.  The commercials, the music, the parties, the endless talk about family…ugh.  Raise your hand if you have considered how much easier it would be if Santa would just stick his list where the sun don’t shine and you could fast forward to January.

The year that Chris died, I slogged towards the holidays with a combination of dread and indifference in my heart.  The holidays can be difficult enough when you are grieving but considering that Chris was diagnosed and died during the holiday season, I could not think of a time of year I wanted to experience less.  At a certain point however, I did start to feel a small bit of holiday spirit which truly surprised me.  (I wrote about this experience in a blog post for Widow’s Voice that year).  Nearly four years out, I still ease into November carrying a mixed bag of emotions.  The bag can feel pretty heavily weighed down at times by the sadness, loneliness, and bitterness stuffed in there.  But I am able to lighten the load a bit by including some gifts for myself. 

I have given myself the gift of acceptance about the conflicting feelings of both sadness and joy I experience at this time of year.  I have learned to give myself an "out" for events I don't want to attend and not feel guilty about it.  I have given myself the option to change some holiday traditions and have gravitated towards activities that include my widowed friends.  I have given myself the gift of an expanded "family" by including people in holiday events with my children that I probably wouldn't have if Chris were still alive.  And I have taken advantage of the gift of the many resources that are readily available to help us all get through this season.

While there is no simple equation to surviving the holidays when you are grieving, taking advantage of some of the following may fill your holiday bag up with a little hope.  Even if it is just one small, tiny gift that you can cling to this year....hold on tight. 

Rainbow Hospice
Grief and the Holidays and Finding Joy in the Midst of Loss & Holiday Stress

Presentations for the bereaved to explore positive alternatives for coping with memories, feelings and activities associated with the holiday season.  Several dates, times and locations including a presentation specifically for the LGBT community (tonight) and one specifically for polish speakers.

Lauri S. Bauer Foundation for Sudden Loss
Sudden Loss and Grief – The Path to Recovery

A workshop on help, healing, and hope after loss.  Presented by Dr. Kenneth Doka. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Double Tree Hotel
9599 Skokie Blvd, Skokie

Center for Grief Recovery & Therapeutic Services
Holiday Grief Group

A four-week therapeutic group experience focused around issues of grief and mourning that arise around the holidays. Participants enter a process to understand grief, how one can work through their grief, and to better understand and cope with feelings and thoughts that arise with the holidays, The group context offers a supportive environment where participants’ problems and issues are understood and addressed, change and growth take place, and a sense of communal support can be deeply felt.

1263 W. Loyola, Chicago
Call 773-274-4600 for more information 

Palos Community Hospital Hospice
Coping with the Holidays

Free bereavement workshop designed to help reduce holiday stress.  Coping techniques will be offered to help you get through the upcoming holiday season.

Saturday, November 17, 2012
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
PCH Primary Care South Building, Immediate Care Entrance – Suite 21
15300 West Avenue, Orland Park

Reservation required by November 9th.  Call Marge Laphen at 630-257-1111 to RSVP or for more information.

Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation (SSLF)
This international organization provides peer-based support programs for those grieving the loss of a loved one.  Starting today, SSLF will post a Holiday Hope Tip every day throughout the season on their FB page .

Finally, an additional day that may be of interest to you is Children’s Grief Awareness Day.  The day is designed to help us all become more aware of the needs of grieving children and the benefits that they obtain through the support of others.  The day is specifically observed on the third Thursday in November (November 15th this year) to increase the support of grieving children during the holiday season.  You can learn more about the day and ways to recognize it by visiting the Children’s Grief Awareness Day website or Facebook page.

*Do you know about an event or resource we missed?  If so, please let us know at so we can get the word out.*


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