Posts By Janet Klein

Coping with Loss During the Holidays

By , Published on December 6, 2017
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We all feel the press of cultural, family and personal expectations whether we’ve had a loss or not.   The following words and phrases express those expectations:

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Joy, Feasting, Celebration, Festivity, Good Cheer

This clashes with what a grieving person is feeling inside:

Loss, loneliness, emptiness, yearning, anger, guilt, depression

We yearn for holidays to be the same as they once were. However, when we’re grieving, the holidays remind us of what we have lost.

It’s an exceptionally difficult time for people who have lost a loved one within the months prior to the holidays. For others it may be difficult because of a death anniversary during this season, families far away, or a rupture of some kind such as divorce, estrangement, medical illness, etc.

There’s so much pressure to feel happy and festive—some comes from within but also from usually well-intentioned friends and family members who expect traditions to continue despite the loss. You don’t want to disappoint people but may feel guilt if you don’t participate. It’s common for grieving people to withdraw to avoid the pressure. It’s also common for family and well meaning others to get concerned and urge you to maintain the activities of the season in a misguided attempt to cheer you up.

If there’s one symptom of grief, it’s exhaustion. Unconsciously a lot of energy is going into that grieving whether grief is new or your loss happened a while ago. Holidays are packed with activity – parties, cooking, shopping, holiday cards, etc. Make time for rest.

Give yourself permission. It’s not yes or no. You can make adjustments. Do certain things and not others. What you do this year to cope can be different from last year or next year.  

Maybe skip the whole thing: It is actually okay if you decide to skip your traditional celebrations and instead go on a trip, go to a yoga or spiritual retreat, don’t send cards this year, etc. Give yourself permission to do what feels right.

Parties: If the party is called for 7 o’clock and goes to 10, call the host and let him or her know that you’ll come but only for a short time. You can explain or not. You can go or not.

Shopping: Use the Internet instead of the facing hassle of driving, parking and crowds. Keep a list with you so when you have energy you can go and do it in small pieces.

It’s okay to feel festive: When you feel like you WANT to participate in something festive, allow yourself to do it without guilt. Pain and happiness can live in the same house.

Plan. Think about what will make the holiday meaningful, what you have energy for and plan for how to make that happen. Don’t ad lib this one.

Communicate. Sit down with family and discuss what feels right and what is possible this year. How will you recognize the absence of a loved one.

 Remember. For many people memorializing the loss can be healing. Tree lighting, candle lighting, saying the loved one’s name is very helpful. Make time for stories of the loved one when you’re keenly aware of their absence.

Please contact Rev. Catie or any member of the Pastoral Care Team if you’d like to discuss this or could use some extra support.  The next Grief and Loss Group meets on Sunday, December 17th from 12-1:30 in the Keil Classroom, and is led by Andrea Goldberg.  All are welcome.






Summer Pastoral Care Coverage

By , Published on June 19, 2015
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Sean Neil-BarronFrom June 21 to August 17 while Rev. Catie is taking her well-earned vacation and study leave, pastoral care coverage will be provided by Sean Neil-Barron. Sean is a recent Harvard Divinity School graduate who many will remember from the two sermons he gave as a guest preacher in the past year – and who will preach again on Sunday, August 30th.

For all pastoral care concerns including emergencies, please call the church office or the pastoral care person on call (see the list below). Messages on the office phone will be checked each week day during the summer. Susanna or the pastoral care associate will contact Sean when necessary.

The pastoral care associate on call by week:

  • June 21 – Buffy Duhig
  • June 28 – Janet Klein
  • July 5 – Judy Hadrick
  • July 12 – Carolyn Lynes
  • July 19 – Becky Siebens
  • July 26 – Phil Griffith
  • August 2 – Janet Klein
  • August 9 – Rick Vincent
  • August 16 – Jim Leffingwell

Neighborhood News

By , Published on November 27, 2014
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Since the kickoff of our neighborhood group concept last May, there’s been much activity! Each group has gathered for at least one event and generated many positive responses. How nice to get together in homes and backyards, with no agenda, no business to address, but simply to get better acquainted with our neighbors and share some time together. Continue reading…