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Making It Through the Holidays

What do the holidays mean to you? For many people, it’s a joyous time of year, a time to celebrate family and friends, and a time to be grateful for life’s blessings, remembering important days gone by and rejoicing in the present moment. For others, though, the holidays are a painful season, when the vacant spaces left by lost loved ones make them wish the holidays would pass quickly. How do you celebrate the holidays, when you don’t feel like celebrating anything?

  • Don’t cancel. It may be tempting to hide away from the holidays, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Instead, decide how you want to celebrate it, and let your loved ones know about changes you plan to make. You may want to get away entirely, maybe taking a vacation, or you may be comforted by familiar traditions. Everyone grieves differently, and how you choose to spend your holiday is yours to determine.

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  • Keep the world out if that’s what you need. Even for people in good spirits, the commercialism and constant cheer of the holidays can be a bit wearing. If you’re grieving, it’s likely to be nearly unbearable. Take some quiet time, to do something you enjoy, without any interference from the outside world. Maybe that’s doing some holiday baking, maybe it’s reading a book and listening to your favorite music, or maybe it’s something completely unrelated to the holidays, like going for a pedicure or facial, taking a walk, or seeing a movie. The important thing is to find a way to relax and enjoy yourself.

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  • Don’t expect perfection. You may have hosted a Pinterest worthy holiday meal every year in your home, and your decorations may have been the best of anyone you know, but this year, it might be time to let some things go. Make a big meal, or delegate it to someone else, or don’t have it at all! Shop for the perfect gifts, or give everyone gift cards you ordered online. It may help you to do the things you’ve always done, or it may benefit you to go for whatever is easiest. There’s no wrong answer, but don’t put pressure on yourself to live up to the “perfect” holiday.

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  • Let people in. Talk to your friends and family members about how you’re feeling. Spend time with your favorite people, and accept offers of help and support. While it’s certainly fine to turn down invitations you think will be stressful or painful, it’s also important to feel connected with other people. Sharing your feelings and memories with those you love can help you begin to heal.

We hope that your holidays are meaningful. That’s why we offer assistance to those who have lost a loved one, through information about grief counseling, support groups, recommended reading, and services of remembrance. If there’s any way we can help you this holiday season, as you work your way through a difficult time, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  Please contact Jennifer McBride at 303-577-6057 or jmcbride@horancares.com for information about grief support options in our community.

5 Tips for Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season

It seems like every year the holiday season gets longer. Stores start putting out Christmas decorations before we’ve even moved past Halloween, and it seems like the holidays go on for months and months. For those who are grieving, it can feel like an eternity. How will you make it through the holidays this year? Decide on a course of action, and follow some simple guidelines.

1. Make your own plans. You get to decide whether to keep holiday traditions or create new ones, and you can do as much or as little as you want to do. Be assertive about events held in your own home, letting your loved ones know ahead of time what changes you are making to the holiday celebrations. If you’re going somewhere else to celebrate, make sure to take your own car so that you aren’t stuck waiting for someone else to be ready to leave. You need to be able to leave if you become uncomfortable or just want to be home.

baking2. Allow yourself to feel. It’s ok to be sad when everyone else is celebrating. Don’t resist joy if it presents itself, but don’t feel guilty for experiencing negative emotions. Your grief experience is your own, and whatever you feel, be it sadness, guilt, anger, or joy, is part of that unique experience.

3. Accept support. This may mean surrounding yourself with friends and family, or it may mean talking about your feelings with one trusted person. It can also mean reaching out for professional help, whether that means attending a support group or a service of remembrance, or seeking counseling.

sadwoman4. Make room for memories. The holidays can be a nostalgic time, even for those who haven’t suffered a loss. If you allow them to, your memories may be a helpful part of your healing process. Share your memories of your loved one with others by telling stories and looking at photo albums. You can also make a memory box with photos of the person you’ve lost, and notes from family and friends. Consider memorializing your loved one in your holiday celebration, perhaps by setting an extra place at the table or lighting a special candle.

memories5. Reach out to others. Sometimes it can be very healing to help someone else. Find ways to connect with those around you by giving of your time, talents and resources. You might invite a guest to dinner who might otherwise be alone, or you might “adopt” a needy family for the holiday. You could also give a donation in memory of your loved one, or provide flowers or other decorations to your place of worship. Being generous with others helps you as you’re helping them, and can ease the pain of your grief.

If you need help dealing with grief this holiday season, we are here to help. We can provide resources, from recommended reading, to support groups, to counseling, to help you find your way through the grief and onto the path toward healing. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer. And above all, we hope you have a meaningful holiday season.

5 Tips for dealing with grief during the holiday season

It seems like every year the holiday season gets longer. Stores start putting out Christmas decorations before we’ve even moved past Halloween, and it seems like the holidays go on for months and months. For those who are grieving, it can feel like an eternity. How will you make it through the holidays this year? Decide on a course of action, and follow some simple guidelines.

1. Make your own plans. You get to decide whether to keep holiday traditions or create new ones, and you can do as much or as little as you want to do. Be assertive about events held in your own home, letting your loved ones know ahead of time what changes you are making to the holiday celebrations. If you’re going somewhere else to celebrate, make sure to take your own car so that you aren’t stuck waiting for someone else to be ready to leave. You need to be able to leave if you become uncomfortable or just want to be home

baking2. Allow yourself to feel. It’s ok to be sad when everyone else is celebrating. Don’t resist joy if it presents itself, but don’t feel guilty for experiencing negative emotions. Your grief experience is your own, and whatever you feel, be it sadness, guilt, anger, or joy, is part of that unique experience.

3. Accept support. This may mean surrounding yourself with friends and family, or it may mean talking about your feelings with one trusted person. It can also mean reaching out for professional help, whether that means attending a support group or a service of remembrance, or seeking counseling.

sadwoman4. Make room for memories. The holidays can be a nostalgic time, even for those who haven’t suffered a loss. If you allow them to, your memories may be a helpful part of your healing process. Share your memories of your loved one with others by telling stories and looking at photo albums. You can also make a memory box with photos of the person you’ve lost, and notes from family and friends. Consider memorializing your loved one in your holiday celebration, perhaps by setting an extra place at the table or lighting a special candle.

memories5. Reach out to others. Sometimes it can be very healing to help someone else. Find ways to connect with those around you by giving of your time, talents and resources. You might invite a guest to dinner who might otherwise be alone, or you might “adopt” a needy family for the holiday. You could also give a donation in memory of your loved one, or provide flowers or other decorations to your place of worship. Being generous with others helps you as you’re helping them, and can ease the pain of your grief.

If you need help dealing with grief this holiday season, we are here to help. We can provide resources, from recommended reading, to support groups, to counseling, to help you find your way through the grief and onto the path toward healing. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer. And above all, we hope you have a meaningful holiday season.

Grief on Grandparents Day: Grieving A Grandchild

Grandparents Day is a wonderful holiday, meant to honor grandparents and help to strengthen intergenerational bonds. For some, though, it’s a reminder of loss, and a time of sadness. It’s not unusual for a child to lose a grandparent, but what about when the loss goes the other way? Grieving grandparents are often overlooked, but their sadness is just as real as anyone mourning the loss of a loved one.

elderlycoupleWhen a child dies, the parents are, understandably, the primary focus of sympathy and comfort. Losing a child brings intense pain, and can even be a difficult time in a marriage. If you’re a grandparent suffering a loss, you may feel lost in the shuffle. It’s a different kind of pain, when your own child has lost a child, because you’re not just mourning the loss of a grandchild, you’re also suffering the pain of not being able to protect your own child from pain. While these feelings are natural, there is a way through them, especially if you take some steps to help yourself deal with all the feelings.Man hands planting the young tree while working in the garden, ,

  • Talk to your child. Your feelings are complicated, and so are your child’s feelings. Be gentle with each other, and appreciate that everyone experiences grief differently. Avoid making any judgments or giving unsolicited advice. The best thing to do is just be there for each other.
  • Do what you can to help. Offer to bring meals, or grocery shop, or watch the other children, if there are any. Be aware that the grieving parents may not even know what they need, and try to think about it objectively, to think of helpful things to offer. It’s also important to be aware that they may want some time alone; don’t be offended if your offers of assistance are refused. If there’s nothing they need right now, just wait and offer again later, without allowing yourself to have hurt feelings or feel rejected.
  • Take care of yourself. It’s important to make sure you’re eating well, as well as getting enough rest and exercise. Especially when you’re concerned about your family members, the tendency may be to push your own needs to the bottom of your priority list. However, you have to take care of yourself in order to be helpful to others.
  • Spend time with loved ones. If you have other grandchildren, be sure to spend time having fun with them. No matter what, spend time doing things you enjoy, with people you love. Life is precious, and nurturing relationships is one of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself.
  • Do something to honor your grandchild’s memory. It could be something symbolic, like planting a tree, or it could be something practical, like volunteering at an elementary school. The important thing is to find a way to use your grief in a positive way, to help you find your own path.
  • Be gentle with yourself on holidays. For a while, holidays like Grandparents Day, as well as birthdays and anniversaries of the death, may be painful and difficult. This is to be expected, so be patient and give yourself some time to heal. Do something special for yourself on these challenging days, whether this means participating in an activity that brings you joy, or simply spending time alone.

Whether your grandchild was an infant, a child, or an adult, your loss is a loss of future hopes and dreams, and it’s a loss you share with your own child and your child’s partner. Together, you’ll grieve, and together you can find a path to renewed hope. We want to provide the support you need along the way, so please contact us if you need help. We’ve got resources to make the journey smoother. Visit our website for more information, or call and speak to a member of our caring and compassionate staff.

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Coping with Holidays and Other Special Days

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Coping with Holidays and Other Special Days
By Jennifer McBride, M.A.
Horan & McConaty Funeral Service

While holiday times bring a certain kind of sorrow to those who are grieving, it can be the significant times in a person’s life, times not on everyone’s calendars, that can be especially difficult.

These might include:
• Anniversary of the death
• Wedding anniversaries
• Birthdays
• Birthdays of other family members
• Major family occasions such as weddings, baptisms, graduations
or other milestones

There are many ways to observe and commemorate these important occasions, such as visiting the final resting place of a family member or finding a visual, verbal or symbolic way to remind others of a special person’s continued presence in the life and history of their family. Recently, one family shared favorite holiday memories of their loved one. There was laughter. There were tears. And there was relief brought about by releasing feelings honestly and directly.

As we are grieving it may be helpful to acknowledge that holiday times can be difficult and even marginalize those who aren’t feeling like “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Knowing that there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, only your way, gives you permission to do what is best for yourself and those close to you at holidays and anniversaries.

Here are some suggestions…
• Care for yourself – mind, body & spirit.
Do things that are helpful, nourishing and comforting for you, such as listening to music, having quiet time, enjoying a cup of tea or a bath that can be soothing.

• Reserve the right to change your mind.
Well-meaning people may extend invitations, and even press us to attend. Just because someone invites, doesn’t mean our attendance is required. Care for yourself in terms of how much socializing you can tolerate. People who truly care will understand if you tell them how you are feeling.

• Keep some traditions… or create new ones.
Some people wish to do things in the ways they’ve always done them. This can be the best thing for some, but others might find it helpful to create new traditions or do something completely different. Exercise your right to grieve in your own way.

• Acknowledge that life has changed.
Sometimes people don’t want to mention the name of the person who died, thinking that this is easier for us and what we would prefer.. Let people know through your words and actions that it’s OK to speak of the person who died. Set a place at the table and perhaps place a candle or photograph there that shows that that person’s presence is still felt.

 

 

“At Jerry’s request, no services will be held.”

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My barber Jerry is a wonderful man. I have known Jerry for years, and appreciate his big and generous heart. When his clients are sick or unable to come see Jerry, he packs up his kit and goes to them. He is alert to helping people in every way he can. I see Jerry at the funerals for his clients, sometimes as a speaker. Jerry knows it’s important to show up because it means so much to the survivors and as part of his own need to grieve.

So, perhaps you can imagine my shock and surprise when Jerry announced there will be no funeral for him. He has advised his wife and son this is his wish. He doesn’t want people to grieve and wants to leave this world without fuss.

With over 40 years of experience and extensive training in helping people cope with grief, I know there are many others like Jerry and I believe people who state such things are well-meaning, though misguided. Please allow me to explain.

Since the dawn of recorded history, humans have come together to mourn, to view their deceased loved ones, and to allow others to share this experience. Grief shared is grief diminished. Dr. William Worden, a noted researcher in the area of grief, writes there are four tasks of mourning:
1. To accept the reality of the loss.
2. To work through the pain of grief.
3. To adjust to an environment where the deceased is missing.
4. To find an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life.

Dr. Worden acknowledges there is work involved in each of these tasks and reminds us that these are not meant to be a linear progression, though there is a logical sequence. One cannot expect to “complete” one and then move to another. These can all be in play at any given time, with more emphasis on one or some than another. Funerals and memorial services play an important role in giving structure, comfort, acceptance, and meaning to people who are grieving.

Dr. Worden, Dr. Alan Wolfelt, and others who conduct research and are widely regarded as experts on this subject all acknowledge what I see all the time, that people who lean-in toward their pain are doing the work of mourning and moving forward in that process.

Funerals and Memorial Services represent opportunities for people to come together with a common purpose, to share the loss and to provide and receive comfort and meaning. It’s important to get this right. As I explained to my friend Jerry, the dead don’t care, but the living do.

I know Jerry would want what is best for his family. That’s why I hope I convinced him not to micro-manage the needs of his survivors, because these are their needs. It should be their right to come together for a meaningful goodbye without the guilt of feeling that they acted contrary to his wishes.

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4 Tips For Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season

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#1 Talk About Your Grief
During the holiday season, don’t be afraid to express your feelings of grief. Ignoring your grief won’t make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen-without judging you. They will help make you feel understood.
#2 Be tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits
Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued. Your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. And lower your own expectations about being at your peak during the holiday season.
#3 Eliminate Unnecessary Stress
You may already feel stressed, so don’t overextend yourself. Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself. Realize also that merely “keeping busy” won’t distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and postpone the need to talk out thoughts and feelings related to your grief.
#4 Be With Supportive, Comforting People
Identify those friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and who will allow you to talk openly about your feelings. Find those persons who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings-both happy and sad.

Please call Jennifer McBride at 303-745-1771 x242 for grief support.

An Open Letter to Bereaved Parents

My aunt, Nancy Knowlton, shares “thoughts of the day” with me.  This one touched me, especially.  We aren’t sure who authored this, but her grandfather, my great-grandfather, was widely known for his own writings or sharing the most meaningful writings of others.
-John Horan

An Open Letter to Bereaved Parents:

I won’t say, “I know how you feel” –because I don’t. I’ve lost grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, but I’ve never lost a child. So how can I say I know how you feel?

I won’t say, “You’ll get over it” –because you won’t. Life will have to go on. The washing, cooking, cleaning, the common routine. These chores will take your mind off your loved one, but the hurt will still be there.

I won’t say, “Your other children will be a comfort to you” –because they may not be. Many mothers I’ve talked to say that after they have lost a child, they easily lose their temper with their remaining children.  Some even feel resentful that they’re alive and healthy, when the other child is not.

I won’t say, “never mind, you’re young enough to have another baby” –because that won’t help. A new baby cannot replace the one you’ve lost. A new baby will fill your hours, keep you busy, give you sleepless nights. But it will not replace the one you’ve lost.

You may hear all these platitudes from your friends and relatives. They think they are helping. They don’t know what else to say. You will find out who your true friends are at this time. Many will avoid you because they can‘t face you. Others will talk about the weather, the holidays and the school concert, but never about your child. Never about how you are coping.

So what will I say? I will say, “I’m here. I care. Any time. Anywhere.” I’ll cry with you if need be. I’ll talk about your loved one. We’ll laugh about the good memories. I won’t mind how long you grieve. I won’t tell you to pull yourself together. No, I don’t know how you feel — but with sharing, perhaps I will learn a little of what you are going through. And perhaps you will feel comfortable with me and find your burden has eased. Try me.

Meet Our December Caregiver of the Month

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Simone Turner, Intake Coordinator at Suncrest Hospice, is the winner of the December Hospice Caregiver Award presented by Horan & McConaty.  She was nominated by Kim Braun who had this to say about:

I would like to nominate Simone Turner as “Caregiver of The Month.” Where Simone, as an Intake Coordinator, is not your typical caregiver in the sense of direct care, she is every sense of a caregiver when it comes to the first interaction many of our prospect patients and families have when it comes to learning about hospice. Simone is typically the first contact these individuals will speak to about hospice, and where they rarely meet her in person they end their initial conversation with a feeling of comfort, relieve and outlet. As her director, I have left the Intake Office in awe numerous times after having the opportunity to hear her educate these patients (often for more than an hour) with such empathy, compassion, patience and professionalism. No matter how difficult this conversation may be, Simone in the end has probably made these people laugh at some point during the conversation, lightened the load of a very heavy discussion and ended the conversation with the person on the other end feeling confident about the next journey that lies ahead. We at Suncrest are so very fortunate to have her on our team!

 Kim Braun
Suncrest Hospice

Recipients of the monthly Caregiver Award will receive a gift card that can be used for whatever the recipient decides and an award.

In addition, each year the Caregiver of the Year is announced at a banquet honoring the twelve monthly winners. The Caregiver of the Year will win a trip for two within Colorado.

Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!

Congratulations to Our November Caregiver of the Month

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Kristi Rice, RN at The Denver Hospice, is the winner of the November Hospice Caregiver Award presented by Horan & McConaty.  She was nominated by Jamie Weatherly who had the following to say about why she nominated Kristi.

Kristi Rice is a new hospice nurse. But, when you have what it takes, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing this 3 months or 15 years. She knows her patient’s needs and how to care for them, going above and beyond what is expected, definitely above what I’ve seen in my hospice career. Kristi assumed cares for a patient with COPD. This patient lives alone, has no connections with anyone. This patient has been fearful and distrustful of anyone. Yesterday, Kristi made her routine visit. She had tried calling the patient several times to let this lady know she was coming, with no luck reaching her on the cell phone, this patient’s only connection to help. When Kristi arrived, this patient said that her phone quit working 2 days ago. This patient had no way of calling anybody, including any emergency services if needed. Kristi personally went to the patient’s mobile carrier store and had the phone fixed, spending over 2 hours getting this taken care of so this patient could call for assistance if needed. Anyone who has worked in hospice knows how little spare time there is in a day. Kristi took 2 additional hours out of her day to make sure this patient had a way to seek help if needed. This is just a very small example of what she has done in a very short time as a hospice nurse. But again, when you have the heart to do this work, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a hospice caregiver. Kristi has the heart for this job. She was able to restore trust in a patient that was scared to trust anybody. That in itself speaks volumes :) 

Jamie Weatherly, RN
The Denver Hospice

Recipients of the monthly Caregiver Award will receive a gift card that can be used for whatever the recipient decides and an award.

In addition, each year the Caregiver of the Year is announced at a banquet honoring the twelve monthly winners. The Caregiver of the Year will win a trip for two within Colorado.

Do you know a Caregiver? Nominate them today!

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