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Counselors Offer Tips on Coping with Grief During Holidays

Nov. 20, 2007 — Emotions ran high at a grief-and-loss workshop Tuesday at the American Association of Retired Persons' (AARP) office in Estate Diamond, with tissues passed around to the eight people gathered as the tears flowed.
Continuum Care and AARP sponsored the workshop, "Grief and Loss: Getting through the Holidays." Leading the workshop were Tracy Sanders, a registered nurse, and Carolyn Weinstock, the spiritual coordinator, both from Continuum Care Hospice.
"The holiday season starts really early now, causing the period of stress to be longer," Sanders said. "Even before Halloween, Christmas decorations are out in stores."
The topics discussed were myths and facts about grief, feelings and emotions, hopes and fears about the holidays. Emphasized were the four C's to get through the holidays: communicate, change, cut back, celebrate and develop a plan.
"There are four stages of grief that all of us, as humans go through," Sanders said. "The goal is acceptance of the loss, but there are triggers such as holidays."
Wanda Joseph, whose father died in August, said she was just hoping for the holidays to pass.
"We want you to leave with a toolbox plan to get through this season one day at a time, regardless of when the loss was," Sanders said.
Edna-Mae Belardo, whose sister passed away in February, said things will go OK, and then something will trigger the feelings of sadness all over again.
The four C's are crucial to get through the holidays, Weinstock told the group.
"Communicate your needs — if you don't feel like cooking, tell someone," she said.
It might not be a bad idea to change routines and cut back on activities, Weinstock added.
"Celebrate the memory of your loved ones, even if it's with a funny story," Weinstock said. "If you enjoy yourself this holiday season, be at peace with that."
One participant raised the issue of misunderstandings by family members.
"I think it's hard for my children understanding my feelings," Omah Adams said. "I am concerned about the effect on my children."
Rituals can be important in helping children accept the situation, Weinstock said. Children can maintain a link between themselves and the deceased with visits to the cemetery, keeping belongings of the deceased or writing in a journal.
Rituals can be good for children, but if you find yourself dreading a certain part of the holiday rituals or traditions, do something different, Weinstock said. It is important to remember that change may be temporary — or you might find you like the change.
Sanders gave suggestions on how the participants might develop a plan and put it in their toolbox to cope during the holidays.
"I would like to see a workshop on grieving offered for children," Adams said at the close of the two-hour session.
"This workshop was very helpful in dealing with my emotions," said Nydia Asencio, who is dealing with the death of a loved one.
"Death ends a life, but not a relationship," Sanders said in closing.
Monday on St. Thomas 22 people attended a grieving workshop, while 12 people attended the morning session Tuesday on St Croix. For more information about services offered by Continuum Care, call 772-2273.
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Nov. 20, 2007 -- Emotions ran high at a grief-and-loss workshop Tuesday at the American Association of Retired Persons' (AARP) office in Estate Diamond, with tissues passed around to the eight people gathered as the tears flowed.
Continuum Care and AARP sponsored the workshop, "Grief and Loss: Getting through the Holidays." Leading the workshop were Tracy Sanders, a registered nurse, and Carolyn Weinstock, the spiritual coordinator, both from Continuum Care Hospice.
"The holiday season starts really early now, causing the period of stress to be longer," Sanders said. "Even before Halloween, Christmas decorations are out in stores."
The topics discussed were myths and facts about grief, feelings and emotions, hopes and fears about the holidays. Emphasized were the four C's to get through the holidays: communicate, change, cut back, celebrate and develop a plan.
"There are four stages of grief that all of us, as humans go through," Sanders said. "The goal is acceptance of the loss, but there are triggers such as holidays."
Wanda Joseph, whose father died in August, said she was just hoping for the holidays to pass.
"We want you to leave with a toolbox plan to get through this season one day at a time, regardless of when the loss was," Sanders said.
Edna-Mae Belardo, whose sister passed away in February, said things will go OK, and then something will trigger the feelings of sadness all over again.
The four C's are crucial to get through the holidays, Weinstock told the group.
"Communicate your needs -- if you don't feel like cooking, tell someone," she said.
It might not be a bad idea to change routines and cut back on activities, Weinstock added.
"Celebrate the memory of your loved ones, even if it's with a funny story," Weinstock said. "If you enjoy yourself this holiday season, be at peace with that."
One participant raised the issue of misunderstandings by family members.
"I think it's hard for my children understanding my feelings," Omah Adams said. "I am concerned about the effect on my children."
Rituals can be important in helping children accept the situation, Weinstock said. Children can maintain a link between themselves and the deceased with visits to the cemetery, keeping belongings of the deceased or writing in a journal.
Rituals can be good for children, but if you find yourself dreading a certain part of the holiday rituals or traditions, do something different, Weinstock said. It is important to remember that change may be temporary -- or you might find you like the change.
Sanders gave suggestions on how the participants might develop a plan and put it in their toolbox to cope during the holidays.
"I would like to see a workshop on grieving offered for children," Adams said at the close of the two-hour session.
"This workshop was very helpful in dealing with my emotions," said Nydia Asencio, who is dealing with the death of a loved one.
"Death ends a life, but not a relationship," Sanders said in closing.
Monday on St. Thomas 22 people attended a grieving workshop, while 12 people attended the morning session Tuesday on St Croix. For more information about services offered by Continuum Care, call 772-2273.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.