November, 2016: Dealing with Grief and the First Thanksgiving … and Beyond


For millions of schoolchildren across the county, the First Thanksgiving is a social studies lesson, a piece of American history studied every year at this time. But for millions of people who’ve lost loved ones recently, the first Thanksgiving may be something more—the start of many painful events from which the deceased will be absent for the first time.

At the Center for Hope Hospice, we have decades of experience helping families work through their bereavement and cope with loss during the holidays and other occasions.  While some people may find our bereavement support services helpful, we’d like to present some ways to help cope with the grief associated with the holidays.

-    Acknowledge that holidays will be difficult and different.
-    Decide if you want to keep, modify or create new holiday traditions.
-    Plan in advance how you want to spend your time and with whom.
-    Acknowledge what you can and cannot do.
-    Acknowledge the loss in the holiday celebration (light a candle, make a toast, etc.)
-    Make others specifically aware of things you want or don’t want to do over the holidays.
-    If you’re having trouble parting with your loved one’s clothing, use the holidays as an opportunity to donate them to a charity.
-    Don’t feel guilty if you need to skip certain holiday events.
-    Identify people who’ll be able to help you and support you through the holidays.
-    Remember that it’s okay to be happy and joyous in your celebrations; know that it doesn’t diminish your love of those lost.

Additional Support 
For some people, support groups (like the ones offered through the Center) are very effective. Guided by trained grief counselors, our support sessions offer solace and solidarity among friends who are going through similar experiences (even if they are experiencing grief differently). These sessions provide a safe environment for people to express or explore their feelings as they work through the many firsts of that first year without their loved one.

Many additional resources and tips are available for those in need. Please call our bereavement department at 908.889.7780 for additional strategies to deal with the holiday season.

For those of you who are approaching your first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first birthday or other occasion without your loved one, please know that we understand and we are here for you. Our services do not end when your loved one leaves us. To learn more about the Center for Hope Hospice’s spiritual and bereavement services, contact the Center at (908) 889-7780 or info@cfhh.org.