The LIV ON project was conceived out of the desire to transform my grief into healing. My sister, Rona had just died of glioblastoma and I was suffering greatly from her sudden death. I’ve always turned to music to process my emotions and help heal […]
The thought of describing one’s journey of grief as “grace” seems unsettling, if not impossible. Grace, after all, is typically defined as elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action – or in many religious traditions as mercy, clemency or pardon. How in the […]
Feelings of Grief May Be Magnified During The Holidays / Jon Radulovic, National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization
The holidays are often thought of as a joyful time of the year, filled with sights and sounds of seasonal cheer. Yet for people struggling with the death of a family member or other loved one, the holidays can be a difficult time.
The season may be full of reminders of the loss in our lives. And it is not just recent losses. During the holidays, feelings of grief can seem fresh, even if a loved one died years ago.
“We need to recognize that feelings of grief may be intensified during this time of year,” commented J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “We need to be kind to ourselves and loved ones, and find support to help when things seem overwhelming. Hospices help people cope with loss every day and are great resources.”
A suggestion for coping with grief during the holidays is to allow yourself permission to do what feels right for you. At a time of year when many people feel compelled to follow holiday traditions, letting yourself do something different can be helpful. Some people find it comforting to be with family and friends, emphasizing the familiar. Others may wish to avoid old traditions and try something new.
Hospice professionals help families cope with loss throughout the year. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers additional suggestions for coping with grief during the holidays:
- Plan for the approaching holidays. Recognize that the holidays might be a difficult time for you. The stress may affect you emotionally, mentally, and physically. This is a normal reaction. Be prepared and gentle with yourself.
- Recognize that the holidays won’t be the same. Expecting everything to seem the same might lead to disappointment. Doing things a bit differently acknowledges the change in your life but still offers continuity with the past.
- Be careful not to isolate yourself. It’s important to take quiet, reflective time for yourself but also allow yourself the support offered from friends and family.
- The holidays may affect other family members. Talk over your plans and share your feelings. Respect other’s choices and needs.
- Avoid additional stress. Decide what you really want to do over the holiday season and give yourself permission to avoid things you don’t want to do.
Your local community hospice can be a source of information to help you or a loved one cope with grief and loss. To find a hospice in your area, visit the Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice website at www.momentsoflife.org.
Vice President, Communications
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
It is often in our darkest hour when grief has cracked us open, that we find access to the purest creative voice with us. Through the gift of art, music, and all creative expression we can begin to address the deep spiraling waves of feeling that overtake us […]
The LIV ON project was conceived out of the desire to transform my grief into healing. My sister, Rona had just died of glioblastoma and I was suffering greatly from her sudden death. I’ve always turned to music to process my emotions and help heal my heart. So to help […]
Life can turn on a dime. Sometimes for the better, like when we get a new job or fall in love, but when tragedy strikes, things can go terribly wrong. My life swerved out of control when I heard that my 22-year-old son, together with three young colleagues, had been beaten and stoned to death by a mob in Somalia where he was working as a photojournalist for Reuters News Agency. The irony was that Dan and his friends had been brutally murdered by the people they were trying to help.
Losing Dan, and with him the promise that his life had shown as an artist, a humanitarian and an adventurer, sent me into a violent tailspin. Unable to eat, sleep or even communicate clearly, I longed to die, but I couldn’t, because I had to be strong for Dan’s younger sister, Amy–if not for myself.
A week after Dan’s death, together with hundreds of mourners, Amy and I gathered on the edge of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya for a Celebration of Life, the saddest celebration we would ever attend. The next day, when we scattered Dan’s ashes, I saw my life stretched before me, bleak and empty, without meaning or purpose. My heart was broken.
Soon after I found a reason to live—at least for a few more months– by helping Reuters and the Associated Press create a collection of photos by three of the photojournalists entitled Images of War, which, together with an accompanying exhibit, traveled the world, triggering awareness of the role of journalists in conflict zones. Working on the exhibit fueled an idea for a documentary, Dying to tell the Story, presented by Amy, that brought us out of despair as we shared the issue of press safety with viewers around the world.
Newly aware of the power of film in creating awareness of critical issues, Amy and I produced more films about issues that we felt were important, and then, in 1998, we launched Creative Visions Foundation to support other artists, writers, photographers and filmmakers; “creative activists” who are using art and media to ignite action. Over the past 18 years, we have had the joy of working with hundreds of passionate individuals who are changing the world through inspired story telling. Our creative activists in 32 countries have touched more than 100 million people globally. Now Amy and I get to meet many of these incredible beings at the new Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism, a vibrant hub for all ages, races and religions in Malibu.
Most remarkably, we live next door to each other, which means I can spend lots of time with Amy’s children, including six-year-old Daniel Eldon Turteltaub, who recently confessed that he had had a particularly bad day. “First Uncle Dan died,” he said darkly. “And then Archie (Daniel’s dog) died and now Daddy won’t play basketball with me.”
Grumpy Daniel’s words made me smile, and also reminded me that although my route to peace of mind and spirit has been long and fraught with seemingly insurmountable challenges, it has revealed the magic and mystery of unknown lands through which I have traveled as well as the wild, dark places within my spirit that would have remained undiscovered without a tragedy to inspire the exploration. I am grateful that now I can laugh again, believing there is more joy ahead.
So for each of you setting off without a compass or a guide on a safari of the soul triggered by loss, I’d ask you not to lose hope, but to watch for the signposts along the way that will direct you and give you new hope as you find, or more likely, create purpose and meaning in your life. I hope that you too, will discover that the journey is truly the destination and that the best is yet to come. ;
Kathy Eldon is the author of In the Heart of Life, a memoir published by Harper One about her tumultuous life, and co-author, with her daughter Amy, of Angel Catcher, a Journal of Loss and Remembrance, a best-selling guided journal published by Chronicle Books to help individuals move through the pain of loss to acceptance and new purpose. To learn more visit: kathyeldon.com; creativevisions.org and daneldon.org. The Journey is the Destination is a collection of Dan’s journal pages published by Chronicle Books which is the inspiration for a feature film about Dan’s life to be released in 2017.
By: Kathy Eldon
Extract: I had just met with a father whose deceased son’s birthday had been the day before. I knew synchronicity, my life path, passion and the arduous, amazing walk with losing a child myself, would connect us so that I could share the following message. […]