Overcoming grief during the holidays

A noticeable tension is already filling the air and my guess is you began feeling it right around the time you noticed the leaves transitioning through their broad spectrum of colors.

It seems like I tell myself every fall I'm going to slow down and drink in the beauty of creation, only to find myself staring winter in the eye after the busy holiday season.

That strong current of business can whisk some of us right through the painful waters of grief, while others get stranded on the shore. There is simply no getting around it; this time of year is one of the more stark and piercing reminders that loved ones who once celebrated with us are now gone.

So the question looms, "How can we, a community of grieved individuals, find even a moment of peace and joy during this season?"

The answer is partly hidden in the question. The first step is to recognize that you are part of a community. You are not as isolated and alone in your grief as you might feel. Your neighbors, friends, coworkers and family are all likely in some form of grief.

And one of the most helpful things we can do for ourselves and others is to drag that reality out of the darkness and into the light. Hearing how others are working through their grief can be remarkably enlightening and therapeutic. Ideally, they will afford you the same opportunity to share about your experience.

A second encouragement would be to fight. No I don't mean fight your neighbor or family member; I mean fight that voice in your head that repeatedly tells you the day's tasks and interactions will be too hard, too emotionally draining and too trivial. The fight against depression cannot be won laying down, staying away or making excuses. It will only be won when you decide to fight for one beautiful moment every day.

Approach every day with the goal of finding a way to honor the memory of your loved one. If they loved getting together with family over a Thanksgiving meal, honor them by doing the same. If they had a certain movie they loved to watch this time of year, pop it in and cry your eyes out if need be. But don't run from your grief; embrace its purpose of reminding us how deeply our loved ones impacted us, shaped us, molded us.

You'll be shocked at the gradual effects of time, to transition these once painful reminders into comforting tributes.

It is with this in mind that Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Kentucky warmly extends an invitation to our annual memorial service entitled "An Evening of Reflection" to be held Dec. 5 from 6:30-8 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) at Walnut Memorial Baptist Church.

This event is open to the community and all are welcome. If you wish for a photo of your loved one to be included in the slideshow presentation, please email it to cpotter@hospiceofwky.org or drop it by the Hospice office (3419 Wathens Crossing) no later than Nov. 29. Please join us for a time of celebrating the lives of those who've passed and establishing hope for those they've left to grieve.

Caleb Potter is the bereavement coordinator for Hospice of Western Kentucky.

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