BISMARCK, N.D (KXNET)– The holiday season will be upon us soon — and while this special time of year often brings celebrations and gatherings to families, it can also be a difficult season for those that have lost loved ones. While nothing can be done to reverse death or unfortunate situations, Sanford Hospice’s Memorial Tree Lighting Ceremony serves to remind people that there always those who understand and are willing to help others deal with grief.
“The holidays are a especially difficult time for families after experiencing the loss of a loved one,” explains Sanford’s Director of Home Health and Hospice Rochelle Vandervliet, “so we offer this opportunity to get together for information on grief during the holidays, as well as some fellowship with our hospice representatives if people feel like they need to talk.”
The tree is illuminated annually in memory of those that were lost — but this does not mean that the remembrance needs to end at the ceremony itself. Before guests leave, they are invited to take a memorial ornament to decorate their own tree at home. Organizers say this time can be difficult for those in mourning, but also that you are never alone.
“Our hospice has chaplains available,” Vandervliet states. “We also have a bereavement program that is available, and we offer grief support groups that are open to the public.”
Sanford Health, has also shared a few pieces of advice for those dealing with grief. While it’s okay to allow yourself to feel any emotions, they say, it’s important to plan ahead, know your limitations, make decisions ahead of time, and take your time when it comes to making any further choices.
“Pray and cry and let it out,” states Sanford’s Hospice Chaplain Angie Kutzer, “and remember that God is right beside you. But if they are not a person of faith, I would say, do things to remember. Embrace the anniversaries and do special things to honor what your loved one loved and what you loved about them.”
If you or someone you know is coping with grief, you are encouraged to reach out to others for support — especially those involved with hospice services.
“We have a lot of resources through our bereavement coordinator to help with grief in that first year and beyond,” Kutzer states. “We also have a couple of chaplains there, and a lot of handouts and information that would be very valuable to anyone who needs them.”
Above all, remember to celebrate your loved ones as well as grieve them — and that the reality that the anticipation of the holidays without your loved one is often harder than the actual holidays themselves.