For some, the upcoming holidays bring dread.
They wonder whether they should even put up a Christmas tree and whether taking a trip to avoid celebrating the holidays at home is OK.
For more than 10 years, Providence United Methodist Church has helped people dealing with grief – especially over a loved one who has died – during the holidays.
At 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, the church will host the first of two holiday-season programs for people dealing with grief. The Rev. Beth Brittain, chaplain and grief counselor with Hospice/Palliative Care, will answer questions and discuss how to manage grief during the holidays.
“She will talk about grief and what do you do with grief when everybody else is feeling festive,” said the Rev. Bill Jeffries, Providence senior associate pastor.
The presentation also will include a memory service, in which participants can light a candle for a loved one, Jeffries said. Some participants also choose to say aloud the name of the person their candle represents or speak about them to the group.
The service also will remind participants that God has not abandoned them, Jeffries said.
“Sometimes you feel, ‘Where is hope?’ ” Jeffries said. “People are together to say there is hope, God is still present with us.”
Jeffries said giving oneself permission to not celebrate the holidays while dealing with grief can be a relief.
The presentation will be followed by a time of fellowship, where participants can talk with each other and with people called Stephen ministers, who are trained to provide care for others who are hurting.
Sometimes friendships form between those who attend the presentation and talk afterward, Jeffries said. Others begin long-term partnerships with Stephen ministers who helped them work through grief.
Providence also will hold a service Dec. 21, the shortest day of sunlight of the year, called “Service of the Longest Night.” The worship service is designed to offer consolation and hope to those who are suffering.
Both events are free and open to the public.