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About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Grieving Over the Holidays
The holidays are especially hard on people who are grieving; it’s a time to remember special family moments. And if you’re missing a member of your family, the holidays only serve as a stark reminder of your loss.
Today, we ran a story about a mom grieving the death of her son. Claire Ann Stevenson wrote a book of poetry to help other parents. She will sign copies of the book Sunday, 2-4 p.m. at Borders in Central Park. At 4 p.m. the same day, the local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a national self-help group for grieving families, will hold its annual candlelighting of remembrance. Both the book signing and the candlelighting are scheduled to help families during the holidays.
The national Compassionate Friends offers some tips for holidays:
Eight Things Not to Say to Bereaved Parents During the Holidays
1) “The holidays are a time for rejoicing and giving thanks for what we have. Don’t
spoil it for everyone else. Let’s pretend this never happened.”
2) “Your child is in a better place. You should be happy about that.”
3) “Why don’t you have another child next year so you can put what’s happened behind
4) “We have to hold our family gathering at your house or it just won’t be the same.
You need to stay busy.”
5) “I know just how you feel. Our pet died this year.”
6) “What do you mean you don’t want to decorate your home? We’re coming over and
do it. That will put you in the holiday mood.”
7) “I know you like shopping—let’s go out together, I have so many people I have to
buy presents for.”
8 ) “It’s time to put this all behind you. No one wants to be with someone who’s always
feeling sorry for himself.”
Nine Ways a Child Can Be Remembered During the Holidays
1) Write down memories—especially funny stories—of the child to give the family. Try to get others who knew the child to write a story and then make a scrapbook for the family that can be added to in the future.
2) Encourage the family to talk about the child—and understanding that some tears may fall—a tribute to the child who died.
3) Share photos or videos of the child with the family that they may not have seen before.
4) “Adopt a child” for the holidays by giving gifts in remembrance of the child who died.
5) If you send a card, make certain to mention that you’re thinking of the child (by name), even if it’s been many years since the child died.
6) Give the family an ornament that in some way will remind the family of the child
7) Give the family time and space so they can handle the holidays in a manner that works for them. Be understanding.
8 ) Invite the family to participate in The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting the second Sunday in December, whether by attending a service or lighting a candle for an hour at home.
9) Make a donation to a favorite charity in honor of the child.