The following was submitted as a "Letter to the Editor," from Hospice of North Iowa, a couple of years ago. However, I believe it warrants a reprint as we head into the holiday season. 

The holiday season is upon us and with that brings feelings of excitement and anticipation for many people.

For someone grieving the death of a loved one, the holidays are filled with mixed emotions about what to do, even more so if it is the first Christmas without them.

Communicating about expectations for this holiday season is very important amongst grievers.

Here are some suggestions to consider during this time of year:

• Keep traditions that feel comfortable and eliminate those that no longer feel right.

• Create new rituals or traditions and remember you can change it again next year.

• Prepare their favorite dish and bring it to a holiday party.

• Allow yourself time alone as well as time for others by volunteering for a cause in their memory.

• Include children and grandchildren in decisions about holiday or remembrance activities.

If you are supporting someone who is grieving, remember people react to grief in different ways.

Consider the following:

• They may want closeness of family or friends and at other times need space and quiet time for their grief.

• Share your own memories of the deceased and use their name.

• You are not expected to say magic words that will make their grief "better."

• Check in with the bereaved periodically as support is often needed for months following a death, not just the first days and weeks.


In addition to there being people grieving this time of year, there are many folks who are simply overwhelmed.

They are overwhelmed with finances, with family, with work, with children. They are just overwhelmed with life.

Yes, life can be overwhelming, especially at this time of the year, but people don't have to be alone.

Not to say things are bad for a lot of people, because they are.

However, how many of us are aware of those around us who are overwhelmed?

Take a minute to slow down, to stop, to look at those around you.

Are there simple ways you can be a part of someone's life this holiday season.

Not that you need to do something for someone, just come along beside them.

Look for the opportunities to do things with a person, a friend, a loved one.

Investing a few moments in the life of someone who is feeling overwhelmed and stressed this holiday season, may take away some of your overwhelmed feeling.