Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, joins Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley during this special holiday edition of the Open to Hope show. Pedersen shares a segment from The Compassionate Friends, where Dr. Heidi Horsley currently serves on their board of directors. This is an organization for anyone who’s lost a sibling, child or grandchild. There’s also a roll-in from a National Candle Lighting event, which is a fantastic way for many grievers to celebrate the life of a loved one who has passed away.

“This organization really changed my life,” says Dr. Heidi Horsley. It was at The Compassionate Friends where she found a group of supporters who felt just like siblings after she had lost her own brother in an auto accident. Katie Morford, author of Best Lunch Box Ever, also joins the show to share some cooking tips on healthy eating while grieving.

Making it Through the Holidays

Pedersen says many people want quick and easy tips for “surviving” the holidays, but there are no shortcuts. He lost his daughter, Ashley, in 2001 and says he considers the holidays a sacred space to just be with her. He uses candle lighting ceremonies to establish a continuing bond with Ashley. Remembering her and being with her, especially during the holidays, is now something he looks forward to every year.

Lighting a candle is so pure and simple, but is a fantastic means of acknowledging a death while celebrating a life. It’s a type of ritual and ceremony that is used in almost every culture around the world. Candle lighting ceremonies sometimes include hundreds or thousands of people and are great reminders that you’re not alone. It’s a tool commonly used in The Compassionate Friends events, but it’s also something you can do yourself or put together with a smaller group.

Alan Pedersen

Alan Pedersen has been performing for more than 25 years. An accomplished singer and award winning songwriter, he spent several years writing and recording music in Nashville, Tennessee. Alan has had several songs recorded by other artists. His writing has not been limited to music, he has written commercials, radio news copy, and collaborations for television shows and other comedy projects. His performing credits are numerous as well. Alan has worked as an actor, stand-up comedian, keynote speaker/emcee, and in radio as a network news and sports reporter for Westwood One Communications. Currently living in Englewood, Colorado, Alan is the father of four boys and an angel. In August of 2001 Alan’s life took a tragic turn, his 18-year-old and only daughter Ashley was killed in an automobile accident. This tragedy would take his life in a direction he never imagined. Struggling for months to find answers and trying to cope with tremendous pain and anger, he entered a grief program in Denver, Colorado and began attending monthly meetings of a support organization (The Compassionate Friends.) Alan credits these organizations with saving his life and inspiring him to honor his daughter’s life by helping others. In July of 2003, Alan released a CD of songs he had written about his walk through the valley of grief, titled Ashley’s Songbook. In 2006, he released a follow up CD titled “A Little Farther Down The Road.” Alan now helps others by sharing his story of faith and hope. His message is simple; grief and loss offer the opportunity for ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. He believes that healing begins when we once again give of ourselves by helping others. Alan speaks and plays his music for churches and grief organizations around the country. In 2008 Alan will release his third CD of original music about the journey bereaved families must walk. Alan has performed at National Conferences for The Compassionate Friends, Bereaved Parents of the USA, and the World Gathering on Bereavement. Alan will travel and speak 120 times in 2008 for local chapters of TCF, BP-USA, and other grief organizations dedicated to helping families grieving the loss of a child. In February of 2008 Alan released his third CD “More Songs From the Journey” which features “Celebrate the Children” which is the anthem of his concerts and events this year. To learn more about Alan and to get his tour schedule, go to: Alan appeared on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss “Learning to Live Again After Loss.” To hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link: Alan appeared a second time on the radio show Healing the Grieving Heart to discuss, “The Holidays, Helpful or Hurtful?” to hear his interview with Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:

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