Holidays are often filled with bright lights, laughter, and merriment in every corner. But for some who are grieving the loss of a loved one, it can be a dark, desolate time. The holidays are especially difficult for most grieving people because they bring back memories of times shared and offer reminders of what has been lost.
Full Circle Grief Center recognizes the significance of holidays for those who have lost loved ones. The non-profit organization reaches out to grieving children and adults throughout the year, and especially during holidays.
Allyson Drake, Executive Director of Full Circle in Richmond, Virginia, stresses the importance of families making deciions together about how to celebrate holidays and remember loved ones. Children are often overlooked in the decision-making process, but that can be a big mistake. Children should be able to express their feelings and emotions, and talk about how they would like to remember a parent, sibling, friend, or other person they have lost during the year.
It’s okay to make changes in tradition too. Many people hang on to old traditions to hang on to memories. Full Circle helps people learn how to move forward and still remember those they have lost. There are many ways to remember those we have loved and lost. People who have participated in the Full Circle Grief Counseling program offer suggestions they learned:
- Light a candle in honor of the person who died
- Remember the person in a holiday blessing and be thankful for the memories
- Make a donation to a worthy cause to remember a loved one
- Add a special ornament to a Christmas tree in their memory
- Create a collage of photos of happier times
- Tell stories of fun times with your loved ones
- Share memories with younger children to help them remember, and allow them to share their stories too
- Visit a nursing home, hospital or other facility where you can offer help and hope to those who are living to honor your loved one
Children are eespecially vulnerable to grief during holidays — especially if they have lost a parent or sibling. Be sure to listen to them and encourage them to communicate openly. Allow them to express themselves in a comfortable way and let them know it’s okay to miss the person they’ve lost.
Full Circle holiday remembrances
Full Circle offers a variety of programs and remembrances during December and throughout the year. They are currently providing support, gifts, and encouragement for 17 Richmond-area families who have lost a loved one this year. The generosity of their volunteers and donors make it possible to bring some happiness and joy to families who otherwise might not have this experience.
“We’re here as long as they need us”
Stephen Drake, co-founder of Full Circle and husband of Allyson, explains it this way, “We know that there is an emptiness inside each child and adult who has lost someone. We try to help by giving them support and hope for the future, without trying to replace the person they have lost. There will always be a hole in their hearts for the person, but they will be able to eventually move forward and live a happy life. We’re here as long as they need us.”
Holidays are a wonderful time of year for many, but they can be sad. Remember those who have lost loved ones and reach out to them in friendship and support. Don’t shy away from them at a time when they likely need you most.
If you or someone you know is suffering grief, visit the Full Circle website and learn more about them. Give them a call and schedule a visit to their center. It may be just what you and/or your family needs to move forward.