Tips for Handling the Holidays – A webinar from The Compassionate Friends and Open to Hope Foundation

This exclusive webinar focuses on how to deal with the holidays following a loss. It features Drs. Gloria and Heidi Horsley along with Alan Pedersen, Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends. “You don’t walk alone on your journey,” says Dr. Gloria Horsley, and she knows this can be a very challenging time of year. The holidays bring back the memories, although people grieve all the time. There are a lot of reminders about what you’ve lost, and it’s full of bittersweet memories. “All we think about is what we’ve lost,” says Pedersen, at least in the early stage of grieving.

A lot of well-meaning people will tell you your loved one would want you to enjoy the holidays, but that’s rarely helpful. In the early grieving stage, you just go through the motions. Grief is centered on the person you lost, and you’ll have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Doing  this  is considered a success. For Pedersen, they leave out a place setting for his daughter who died, and looking at that empty place setting gets easier over the years.

Happy Holidays?

In the mid grief stage, grief is centered on you and what you’ve lost. Your emotions are very strong, and this might be a great time to make some modifications to your holiday season. In later grief stages, you’re in better control of your emotions or you’ve developed a new holiday tradition. A lot of family/friends will expect that you’ve moved on, but it’s still common to be blindsided by reminders and backtrack to those earlier grief stages.

As for survival tips, let people know early what your holiday routine will be. Pick the holiday activities you want to attend and practice saying no if necessary.

Alan Pedersen

More Articles Written by Alan

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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