Hospice of Washington County and Franklin Hospice invite you and your family to participate in our Virtual Community Service of Remembrance.
While we are unable to gather physically together, we can share a safe virtual space to pause, reflect, remember and celebrate the lives and love of those who have died. Antietam Cable will be recording our Virtual Winter 2020 Community Service of Remembrance, and it will be available on YouTube for you and your family to view. During our service, we will light candles, share readings and poems, have moments of reflection, and perform uplifting music.
Grief During the Holidays
Although many people consider the holidays, “the most wonderful time of the year,” it can actually be one of the toughest times of the year for those who are struggling with grief and loss. People often begin to experience immense sorrow, feelings of anger, depression, loneliness and sadness right around Thanksgiving and continuing into the new year. While others may be enjoying the sights and sounds of the holidays; the music, lights, holiday parties and festive decorations that are meant to bring us joy, all of those things may also serve as painful reminders of our loss. Our loved one is not with us physically, so it can be difficult to feel connected to those around us, and to the purpose of the holiday season.
If you’re wondering how to get through the holidays this year without your loved one, here are some things to think about that might be helpful:
- Remember that grief is a part of the healing process. Some people may be resistant to actually sitting with the feelings they’re feeling, and experiencing the full range of emotions that accompany grief and loss. But, giving yourself permission to feel the loss, is part of the healing. Oftentimes people will try to escape, avoid or medicate feelings by over-indulging in food, drinking too much alcohol, or by just being too busy, instead of giving themselves the freedom to acknowledge and sit with their experience. Attempting to pretend the holidays don’t exist or numbing the pain of loss simply prolongs the anguish. Allowing yourself to experience your feelings is a healthy step toward healing from loss.
- Be patient with yourself. Realize that it’s not going to be easy, and do only those things that are special, meaningful or important to you. It’s okay to set healthy boundaries and not feel like you have to agree to every request; be willing to say no if that’s what you need. Eliminate the unnecessary, and set appropriate limits on what you do and what you spend. Do not over commit yourself.
- Make a plan. Realize that this is going to be a new holiday - very different than holidays of the past. Think about changing some traditions or starting new ones.
- Build in times to relax over the holidays; take time to just breathe, remember and reflect.
- Take the initiative and make your own plans if you do not want to be alone over the holidays. Invite a neighbor to join you, throw your own party, or sit quietly with someone you feel safe and vulnerable with during those difficult days. Do something you truly enjoy-don’t do things just out of obligation or to please someone else.
- Some of the worst holiday stress arrives post-season. Plan something pleasant in January and February to help diminish the letdown.
- If stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness become overwhelming, it may be helpful to consult a mental health professional. It’s okay to ask for help.
- Think ahead about a response you might give to someone who says, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year.”
- Be patient with those who are unaware of the death. Think of a way to let them know in advance.
- Find a way to honor your memories. Consider creating a special way to remember and memorialize the person you’ve lost. Whether you decide to place a special ornament on your tree, light a candle every night, or fix your loved one’s favorite food, honoring your loved one is a tangible reminder that although the person we love is gone, the love never dies.
On-going Grief Groups
Open, Drop-in Group
These are open support groups, available to any adult who has experienced the death of a loved one. The group meets the first and third Mondayof each month from 10:30am.-12:00 noon and second and fourth Thursday of each month from 5:30-7:00p.m.
Offered once a month, meeting at a local restaurant. A great chance to socialize in a safe environment, with people who understand and respect where you are in your grief journey.
Closed-Ended Grief Groups
(Offered for 6 week sessions throughout the year)
Overdose Loss Support Group, offered in the fall
Losing a loved one can be one of the most painful experiences we will ever endure. Receive and give support to others who are walking this journey as well. Join us for a time of support, sharing, and education.
Survivors of Suicide Group, offered in the spring
This group will focus on the many issues that arise when a loved one dies of suicide and the emotional, physical, and spiritual responses to it. Explore ways to manage the intensity of the pain and discuss healthy coping strategies.
Teen Grief Group, offered in the summer
Teens have many challenges in life. Add the grief of losing a loved one to these challenges, and it gets even more complex. This group is a safe place for teens to share stories and express themselves.
Educational Workshops, offered throughout the year
- Grief 101
- Children and Grief
- Coping with the Holidays
DoveTales is designed for children (ages 6 – 13) who are coping with the death of a loved one. DoveTales is an educational and nurturing experience for children to share their “Tales” and meet others who “get it.”
Looking for a fun and unique VOLUNTEER opportunity? Consider applying to be a DoveTales Volunteer. Volunteers will have the opportunity to be a “Big Buddy” and a mentor to children and families, or a "Support Staff" to help with set up of camp events. Training and education will be provided to all volunteers, and background checks are required.
DoveTales is offered at NO cost to families. Special thank you for grant funding from the Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc, as well as private donors.
Registration is open to children and families who reside in Washington County, Maryland as well as Franklin County, Pennsylvania.