certain sights and smells any time of year can trigger
Rose Rodrigues' grief for her father, during the holidays
and special occasions her feelings become especially intense.
"You get reminded," the Toronto woman, whose
father died two years ago, said. "Sometimes you can
get busy and do things, but then there are other people
in the family that are feeling the same way you are. So
you really can't put it on the back burner and pretend
it's not happening."
Feeling the loss of a loved one during special occasions
can be so painful that holiday time becomes nothing more
than a matter of survival, said Stephen Fleming, a psychologist
in private practice in Brampton, Ontario and a professor
at Toronto's York University.
The prolonged Christmas season, lasting from the beginning
of November to the beginning of January can be especially
difficult for those who are bereaved.
Still, they can help themselves then or during any special
time, by planning ahead, Dr. Fleming said.
"Avoid the shoulds and do what's best for you,"
he said. That could mean by continuing to get together
with family at holiday time, raising a few eyebrows by
going away on your own, or by staying at home with the
phone unplugged. In any case, Dr. Fleming suggests making
your plans reversible in the event things do not go as
expected. This could mean, for example, leaving the family
celebration, returning home from being away, or plugging
the phone back in and joining the family.
However, he cautioned, families with young children would
be well advised not to cancel occasions such as Christmas
altogether, but to carry on, but in a way that acknowledges
the life of the deceased.
Those who are bereaved can also develop a "meaningful
ritual." He added, perhaps by spending time at the
grave site, or making a donation to a charity in the name
of the deceased.
Taking care of yourself becomes especially important during
those stressful periods, said Allyson Whiteman, a counselor
at Victoria Hospice in B.C., perhaps by having a massage,
going for a walk, or getting lots of rest. And, she suggests
including children in Christmas decision-making.
Many funeral homes across Canada hold services for the
bereaved at Christmas. Yewchin's Funeral Chapel in St.
Paul, Alberta among them.
Approximately eight hundred people usually attend. "There's
just a great sense of strength and comfort that comes
from bringing people together for this," said Caroline
Yewchin, the chapel's owner and funeral director.
Said Suzanne Scott, Executive Director of the Funeral
Service Association of Canada, "Such services are
typical of what many funeral homes offer to families."
Others include bereavement support groups, libraries and
When holiday time arrives for Ms. Rodrigues, a place is
set for her father in his old spot at the head of the
table. "He's not visually there, but he's still there
and you can still see him there in your
heard and in your mind."
REVIEW: Shared Moments, Finding the Spirit of Hope,
by Carol C. Poduch...
BOOK RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Moments, Finding the Spirit of Hope is a book that
explores one family's moments of healing and inspiration
in the years following the loss of a child. The Poduch
family experienced a peace imparting sense of 9-year-old
Lauren's presence after her death. Bereaved mother and
author, Carol C. Poduch, charted a course to hope and
healing while sharing the family's experiences with others
in storytelling fashion. Ultimately, she was encouraged
to begin writing her stories down. They were published
locally in Waterloo, Ontario and eventually picked up
on a broader scale. It quickly became apparent that the
bereaved, their supporters and also the non-bereaved felt
uplifted while hearing tales of Lauren.
book comprises a series of Carol's stories, vignettes
that when experienced collectively take the reader from
the moment of shock when a beautiful child sustains an
insurmountable head injury through many of the details
that bereaved parents must face and ultimately to a place
of peaceful resolution.
conversational writing style draws the reader into her
world in a manner that is guaranteed to generate tears,
laughter, love and ultimately the integration of one of
life's most challenging yet compelling passages - the
death of a child.
Moments is a book that bereaved parents will not want
to miss, yet the messages are universal. The experiences
Carol shares in her book give the bereaved and non-bereaved
alike reason to pause and reflect on the nature of life,
love, loss and hope after loss.