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Fallbrook Hospice event brightens bereaved ones' holidays

FALLBROOK – Fallbrook Hospice recently hosted its annual bereavement memorial event on Saturday, December 5, at the Fallbrook Golf Club for families and friends who recently lost loved ones.

“We are here to honor the memory of those who have reached the end of their journey and help families as they prepare for their first Christmas without them,” said Pat Smorzewski, RN and Fallbrook Hospice Agency’s Administrator.

Family members hung dedicated ornaments on a tree in an emotional and supportive environment while Barbara Martin, a hospice volunteer and member of the Redlands Symphony Orchestra, filled the room with the beautiful tones of her cello.

One by one friends and family members made their way to a Christmas tree standing tall in the front of the room, taking great care to hang their ornaments and share special stories and pictures about those they were honoring.

Stephanie Shaffer, MSW, and Susan Greenley, MSW, with Fallbrook Hospice facilitated a moment of remembrance and healing, and spoke about the natural occurrence of grief especially during the holidays.

“Holidays are when families get together,” said Shaffer. “When you’re grieving, commercials and programs showing happy families celebrating together can make this typically festive season seem like one long reminder of your loss. Thankfully, by incorporating fond memories of your loved one in your traditions, you can honor your grief and their memory while celebrating the holiday season.”

Mike Patton, Fallbrook Hospice Chaplain, concluded the ceremony by offering an inspirational message and wishing everyone a peaceful holiday season.

Here are some ways to incorporate lost loved ones into holiday traditions:

Gift giving in their name – A tradition that is gaining popularity is to continue to buy presents for the deceased. Instead of leaving the gifts unopened in the home, they are given to the needy in the loved one’s memory.

Include a lost loved one in gatherings – Many people keep a photo of the person who has died as a keepsake. Bring out this special picture during gatherings and light a candle near it on special days.

Sharing memories – During holiday meals, family and friends can take turns sharing a favorite holiday memory of the deceased. If this is uncomfortable, a moment of silence can be taken before a meal or gift giving so others can gather.

Using these methods, the grieving can begin to cope with the fact that their loved ones won’t be home for Christmas in body, but can still be there in spirit.

For more information, the Fallbrook Hospice may be reached at (760) 731-7741.


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