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Archive | December, 2013

How to Help Someone Who is Grieving During the Holidays

The holiday season with traditions, celebrations and gatherings with family and friends is a landscape of painful landmines for those struggling with the death of a loved one. Supporting someone who is grieving during the holidays can be the most important gift you give this holiday season. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers ten suggestions for how you can really support someone who is experiencing grief.

1. Support their choice in how to handle the holidays. Some wish to follow traditions; others choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. Let them know that whatever they choose is “right” for them.

2. Help with decorating or holiday baking, which can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving.

3. Help with holiday shopping. Share catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.

4. Invite them  to join you and your family during the holidays as your guest for a religious service or a holiday meal.

5. Invite them to volunteer with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a food pantry or other charity, may help someone who is grieving feel better about the holidays.

6. Donate a gift or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Remind the person that his or her loved one is not forgotten.

7. Don’t expect someone to be “over it, ” and ready to move on.  What’s most important is to give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.

8. Be a good listener. Active listening is important to helping someone cope with grief and loss.

9. Remind them you are thinking of them and the loved one who died. Visits, cards and phone calls speak volumes about how much you care.

10. Remember them after the holidays. Sometimes the post-holiday period can prove to be even more difficult. Checking in after the holidays to see how the person is doing is also important.

If you or someone you know seeks grief counseling from our professionals, please contact our bereavement center Pathways of Hope at 937.258.4991.

Living With Loss During a Season of Celebrations

For many,  an ever-lengthening marathon of holiday preparations and activities can be especially painful following the loss of a loved one. Even in the best of times, the holiday season can tax our physical, emotional, and financial resources.  It should come as no surprise when grieving people start to feel a sense of dread as they contemplate the first holidays after a loss. Since withdrawing into a cave and hibernating with the bears until spring comes is not a practical option, the best strategy is to prepare and plan for the challenges the holiday season brings. holidaysstuff

Recognize your very human tendency to expect and predict the worst. In fact, most bereaved veterans of “first holidays” will tell you that although the holiday itself presented them with some painful moments, their anticipation was much worse than the experience.

Seek out structured opportunities to acknowledge your loss and honor the memory of your loved one.  Participation in remembrance events such as the Hospice of Dayton’s  Remembrance Walk and the Hope for the Holidays program, or one of the many advocacy group sponsored events such as Walk for the Cure, Walk to Defeat ALS can serve as meaningful opportunities for healing.

Involve other family members in planning for the holidays. A family conference can be an effective forum that encourages the renegotiation of holiday plans and individual responsibilities based on input from everyone.

Scale back or eliminate—decorating, shopping, baking, cards, social obligations. Even in the best of years we often find ourselves exhausted by trying to “do it all’; when grief is part of the mix, it becomes clear that “doing it all” is more than impossible.

Consider altering, rather than discarding, important family traditions. While it might be too painful this year to gather around the dining room table for the “traditional” home-cooked dinner, a buffet meal that everyone contributes to, or dinner out at a restaurant, may be preferable alternatives.

Create new rituals that incorporate your loved one’s memory into the holiday.  Flameless candles that “burn” throughout the season, lighting a memorial candle at mealtime, decorating the gravesite with seasonal flowers or other items are all examples of small, but meaningful,  rituals that acknowledge our continuing bonds.

The custom of holiday gift giving is often a painful reminder of the gifts and people we are no longer shopping for.  Many find that intentional gifts to lonely shut-ins, residents in nursing homes, or individuals/families with material needs can be a meaningful way of honoring deceased loved ones.

Intentional “random acts of kindness” during the holiday season can be highly therapeutic.  A larger than normal tip for the waiter or waitress, paying the bill for an unsuspecting diner, leaving change in a vending machine, leaving a book in a waiting room or bus station with a note to enjoy, sending an anonymous gift to someone you know, offering a kind word to a frazzled mother… the opportunities to look outside ourselves are limitless.

Nurture yourself. Take a nap, sleep in, soak in the tub, or get a massage.

Ask yourself this question- “If I knew that this holiday season were to be the last one that I would have with my remaining loved ones, how would I spend it?”  Loss teaches us that the moments we are granted in life are incredibly fleeting and valuable.

Seek out additional support. Attending a grief support group or talking to a grief counselor can be of immeasurable help in meeting the challenges of navigating the holiday season. For more information about grief counseling through Pathways of Hope, read here. Pathways of Hope grief counseling is available for adults, children, and teens, regardless of hospice affiliation.

Hospice of Dayton Earns NIJH Accreditation

Jewish Hospice AccreditedHospice of Dayton is now included in a select group of 60 hospices nationwide after earning accreditation with the National Institute for Jewish Hospice (NIJH). The accreditation links Hospice of Dayton with NIJH which provides staff training and insights on treating Jewish patients who are terminally ill, and access to resources and education about Jewish custom and practice that may arise while caring for a hospice patient who is Jewish.

 

According to Hospice of Dayton’s Team Leader for Chaplain Services, Gayle Simmons, “The training and resources available through NIJH enables our interdisciplinary teams to provide specialized care to patients of the Jewish faith who are at the end of their life,” says Simmons. “We can now offer appropriate emotional and spiritual support to our patients and their families as they go through this most difficult journey.”

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