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Hospice of Santa Barbara Offers Free Support Programs for Those Grieving During Holidays

Holidays are traditionally a time of celebration, but can be difficult for people grieving, oftentimes causing anxiety and dread. Hospice of Santa Barbara wants to emphasize that its free services are available to anyone in the community struggling with grief and loss.

Hospice of Santa Barbara provides free professional bereavement support to individuals and families, including community organizations, schools, hospitals and senior care facilities.

Holiday Grief Workshops Offered

"Grieving Through the Holidays:" This series of workshops will offer support and help you through the holiday season. Dec. 6, 13 and 20, 11 a.m. to noon.

"First Holiday for Families" (bilingual): This workshop is for families with children who will be experiencing their first holiday without their loved one. In the workshop your family will create and decorate an ornament in honor of you family member who has died this year. Dec. 11, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Holiday workshops require pre-registration. No drop-ins, please. Call 805.563.8820.

Light Up a Life Ceremonies Honor Loved Ones

This year, Light Up a Life celebrates 30 years in Santa Barbara and 20 years in Carpinteria. Each year in December, families and friends gather for Light Up a Life in Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria for a ceremony celebrating the life and the joy of remembrance of our loved ones. At this time, a memorial tree is illuminated with hundreds of sparkling lights and stars, each symbolizing a tribute to a loved one.

Light Up a Life, and other ceremonies like it, are international hospice memorial events that began over 30 years ago and are celebrated around the world. Stars will be available at each ceremony for a suggested donation of $15 or more for those wishing to personalize a star and hang it on the tree. All proceeds benefit Hospice of Santa Barbara.

Stars are now available at the following locations:

» Anna’s Bakery in Camino Real Marketplace
» Lovebird Boutique & Jewelry Bar (7 E. De la Guerra St., next door to Casa De La Guerra)
» Curious Cup Bookstore (929 Linden Ave., Carpinteria)
» Peebee & Jay’s (1007 Casitas Pass Road, Carpinteria)
» Montecito Bank & Trust (1023 Casitas Pass Road, Carpinteria)
» Hospice of Santa Barbara office (2050 Alameda Padre Serra, Suite 100), online by clicking here or by calling 805.563.8820

Light Up a Life Dates and Locations:

» Saturday, Dec. 7, 5:30 p.m. — Camino Real Marketplace, Goleta
» Sunday, Dec. 8, 5:30 p.m. — Casa de la Guerra, Santa Barbara
» Saturday, Dec. 14, 5:30 p.m. — The Seal Fountain at Linden Plaza, Carpinteria

During the Holidays: Twelve Practical Tips for Saying, Doing the Right Things

While many people look forward to yearly holiday traditions, gatherings with family and friends and the general good feelings associated with the season, some people dread the holidays. For those who have lost a loved one during the past year, the holidays may emphasize their grief.

The holidays, especially the first ones after losing a loved one, are especially difficult for people who are grieving. Often, friends and family members of those affected by a loss are unsure how to act or what to say to support their grieving loved one during the holidays.

Here are some suggestions:

» 1. Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to change their rituals. Remember, there is no right way or wrong way to handle the holidays.

» 2. Offer to help the person with baking and/or cleaning. Both tasks can be overwhelming for one trying to deal with raw emotions.

» 3. Offer to help him or her decorate for the holidays.

» 4. Offer to help with holiday shopping or give your loved one catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.

» 5. Invite the person to attend a religious service with you and your family.

» 6. Invite your loved one to your home for the holidays.

» 7. Help your loved one prepare and mail holiday cards.

» 8. Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holiday season. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at soup kitchens or working with children, may help your loved one feel better about the holidays.

» 9. Donate a gift or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Remind the person that his or her special person is not forgotten.

» 10. Never tell someone that he or she should be “over it.” Instead, give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.

» 11. If he or she wants to talk about the deceased loved one or feelings associated with the loss, listen. Active listening from friends is an important step to helping him or her heal. Don’t worry about being conversational; just listen.

» 12. Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care. They need to be remembered, and they need to know their loved ones are remembered, too. Local hospice grief counselors emphasize that friends and family members should never be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing, because making an effort and showing concern will be appreciated.

— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing Hospice of Santa Barbara.

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