Offering help, hope when holidays are a season of sorrow


Resources for coping with loss

GriefShare

www.griefshare.org

800-395-5755

Center for Loss and Life Transition

www.centerforloss.com

970-226-6050

Most Hospice care facilities offer grief counseling

www.hcoga.com/grief-and-bereavement.cms

For some people who have lost a loved one, the holidays plunge them into a deep depression. If you are having thoughts of suicide or are concerned about someone who is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Suicide Prevention Services of America

www.spsamerica.org

 

Upcoming GriefShare “Surviving the Holidays” classes:

Wednesday, Nov. 30, 6:30-8:15 p.m.

Duluth First United Methodist Church

3208 Highway 120, Duluth

 

Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to noon

The Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church

1879 Glenwood Ave. SE, Atlanta

 

Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7-9 p.m.

Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church

2400 Highway 42 North, McDonough

 

Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. to noon

Springfield Baptist Church

1877 Iris Dr. SE, Conyers

 

Sunday, Dec. 11, 4:15-6 p.m.

Relevant Church

4770 Highway 42, Locust Grove

 

Tips on coping with loss during the holiday season

Everyone mourns differently. Here are some suggestions from licensed counselors about managing grief during the holidays and beyond.

— Have a plan for what you are going to do during the holidays. If you decide to attend parties and other events, have an escape plan. “If you get somewhere and find out your emotions are too much, leave,” says Tom McBrayer, a licensed counselor in Peachtree City. “Be okay with yourself to do things differently.”

— Be flexible and make time for self-care. Set boundaries and manage your stress. “It’s important to balance your alone time with your time with others,” says licensed therapist Peggy McBrayer.

— Surround yourself with supportive people and be sure to let them know what you need. It’s okay to talk about your grief. Don’t isolate yourself.

— Share memories of your loved one and light a candle in their honor at family gatherings.

— Anyone old enough to love can experience grief, says Alan Wolfelt, an author, educator and director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Ft. Collins, Colo. Children mourn through behavior rather than words. A child may be lethargic or easily upset. If children are angry, they may pick fights with other children. Encourage children and teenagers to talk about their loss.

Source: GriefShare, the Center for Loss and Life Transition, licensed counselors.

A nondescript classroom inside the Christian Life Center of McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church has been transformed into a festive, holiday setting. Tables are adorned with white cloths, hurricane lamps and candles. There’s an Italian crème cake, cookies and other goodies.

As her 20 or so guests for the evening file in, Andrea Kennedy can feel their hesitation. This is no traditional holiday gathering. Kennedy is a group leader for GriefShare, a faith-based support group for people who’ve lost a loved one. On this cool November evening in Powder Springs, she’s hosting a class called “Surviving the Holidays.”

The Acworth mother of three knows the struggle brought on by loss. If it weren’t for her faith and the love of family, it would have been difficult to survive the 2009 death of her newborn, baby Vivian.

“The loss of a child for me; everything in my future changed in an instant,” said Kennedy. “When we found out that the baby wasn’t going to survive, all of a sudden it was a shock to the system … For us it’s the loss of, we’re never going to have Christmas morning, we’re never going to have a birthday party, we’re never going to have Christmas presents. Her funeral was really the only thing we could ever really do for her.”

Two years after baby Vivian’s death, Kennedy became a GriefShare facilitator. In the fall and spring of most years, she has led a 13-week course that combines workbook activities, scriptures, videos and group discussion. Facilitators walk group members through the practical – such as how to handle their loved ones belongings – and the spiritual. At the end of class, participants are encouraged to consider doing something tangible to honor their loved ones, such as helping others or setting up a memorial fund.

Grief is a complex emotion that must be confronted rather than avoided so that in time, those who’ve experienced a loss can find some measure of peace, experts say. GriefShare facilitators hold stand-alone classes in November and December that specifically address coping with loss during the holidays.

“The sights, the sounds and the smells trigger such memories. It makes for a very difficult time,” said Peggy McBrayer, who along with her husband Tom McBrayer leads GriefShare classes at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Peachtree City.

The McBrayers, both licensed counselors, encourage those who are grieving to set boundaries so they aren’t overwhelmed during the holidays. It’s also important for those who are mourning to be around supportive people. And they shouldn’t hesitate to speak openly about their loved one.

After her husband Lynn died of a heart attack last November, Vivian Newton of Powder Springs could barely muster the strength to return to work, much less observe the holidays. For years, she and Lynn hosted parties for as many as 80 people, complete with her homemade eggnog. Last Christmas, “I didn’t have it in me. When I would walk through the men’s department I would just cry and have to leave the store. I was in a fog.”

This year she’s planning to resume some holiday traditions, with a twist. She’s planning a Ladies Night In, complete with her famous eggnog and a holiday sweater contest.

As Andrea Kennedy ended the video portion of the holiday GriefShare gathering, guests were reminded that Christ was born to take away the pain and suffering of believers. It’s a message that resonates deeply with Kennedy and many of her guests, including Newton.

“Last year, I did good to put up a small Christmas tree. This year I’m going to pull out our regular size tree,” she said. “I’m in a better place and definitely GriefShare helped with that. I choose to move forward.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

Justin Timberlake will headline Super Bowl LII halftime show
Justin Timberlake will headline Super Bowl LII halftime show

Singer Justin Timberlake will be returning to the Super Bowl stage for the first time since he was part of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004, the NFL confirmed Sunday. Timberlake, who will be performing in his third Super Bowl halftime show, will be the featured artist during the intermission of the NFL’s showcase...
‘The Walking Dead’ season 8 debut recap: the war is on!
‘The Walking Dead’ season 8 debut recap: the war is on!

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Posted Sunday, October 22, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog While “The Walking Dead” remains a hugely popular show as it enters its 100th episode Sunday, there is a general sense of ...
This under-the-radar breakfast spot offers a dish fit for champions
This under-the-radar breakfast spot offers a dish fit for champions

At a time when hot new restaurants come and go, it’s easy to overlook the old standbys and neighborhood hideaways that have served delicious meals for decades. Buckhead’s White House Restaurant has been such an institution for almost 70 years. In the same block as Peachtree Road United Methodist church, it sits modestly alongside other...
Fox offers Bill O’Reilly big contract after $32 million settlement, Gretchen Carlson reacts
Fox offers Bill O’Reilly big contract after $32 million settlement, Gretchen Carlson reacts

Fox News offered Bill O’Reilly a $25 million contract even though O’Reilly had agreed to settle a sexual harassment claim for $32 million, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that O’Reilly settled out of court with former Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl just months before he was dismissed from the network. O&rsquo...
‘The Walking Dead’ 100th episode special: interviews with the cast
‘The Walking Dead’ 100th episode special: interviews with the cast

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes at the Hilltop on the season eight opener – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Posted by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Sunday, October 22, 2017 As part of the 100th episode celebration of “The Walking Dead” returning Sunday, October 22, here are interviews I did while ...
More Stories