The Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, Alan Pedersen, joins Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley during a special holiday edition of The Open to Hope show. He offers advice for bereavement throughout the holidays, which is often the toughest time of year no matter how long ago the loss was. A video segment from the Midpensula Chapter of The Compassionate Friends is featured, and the National Candle Lighting event is highlighted.

Registered dietician and cookbook author Katie Morford also joins the program to offer tips and recipes for easy and healthy holiday cooking. She penned The Best Lunch Box Ever as a tool to help the bereaved keep themselves healthy even during the grieving process. Baking can be therapeutic, and there are many holiday meals and treats that can easily be made healthy with a few tweaks. Unfortunately, it’s easy to fall into the trap of unhealthy eating, especially when you’ve recently lost someone you love.

Bringing Back Some Holiday Joy

Pedersen calls the holidays a time when you can pursue a “sacred space” and strengthen those continuing bonds with those who have passed. Candle lighting is a great way to do this, whether you join a large event or hold your own lighting at home. Continuing bonds is very possible, because losing a family member (or anyone) doesn’t mean you’ve lost that relationship. You can continue it, and many people find that tools like candles can help mobilize that relationship.

“When you think you cannot survive this loss, and you can look at someone else and say, ‘see you’ve made it six months or 5 years or 15 years’ you think, maybe I can do it, too,” says Pedersen. Surrounding yourself with a strong support network is key, and that’s exactly what The Compassionate Friends offers. Pedersen has visited over 300 chapters.

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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