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How to cope during the holidays after surviving a loss

By Angela Morefield

The holidays can be an emotional time, especially if you have recently lost a loved one. It can be encouraging to meet others who are experiencing similar grief and help each other through the tough times. The following are two Southside events that can be helpful during this holiday season.

Surviving the Holidays

Join Southland Community Church for “Surviving the Holidays,” a community seminar that will help you discover new reasons to enjoy them again. All are welcome to this free event.

“Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable,” said Mary Gerlach, GriefShare facilitator for Southland Community Church. “People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays, but there is help out there.”

The seminar helps participants learn how to handle their emotions, what to do about traditions, helpful tips for surviving social events and how to find hope for the future.

You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with practical strategies, encouraging words, helpful exercises, answers to questions and journaling ideas for daily survival through the holiday season.

The seminar will take place this Saturday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m.-noon at Southland Community Church, 5800 W. Smith Valley Road, Greenwood, IN 46142.


Registration is Required. Call Mary Gerlach at (317) 340-3284, email her at gerlachme@yahoo.com or register online at griefshare.org. Enter zip code 46142 and look for Surviving the Holidays – Southland.

After the new year, the Gerlachs will host a 13-week GriefShare support group on Saturdays from Jan. 11-April 4, 10 a.m. to noon. Please contact Mary Gerlach for more information.

Christmas Remembrance

Franciscan Health and Franciscan Hospice Bereavement are hosting “Christmas Remembrance” Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Southport Presbyterian Church, 7525 McFarland Boulevard, Indianapolis, IN 46237.

Participants can join other families and members of the hospital and hospice staff for a memorial service. There will be Christmas music performed by a choir, a guest soloist and piano, organ and harp music. There will be a candle-lighting ceremony, which offers a symbolic way for guests to honor their loved ones during a difficult time. Those who plan to attend are encouraged to bring photos of their loved ones that they would like to remember or honor. The pictures can be displayed on the “Table of Honor” at the front of the sanctuary. Refreshments and fellowship will be offered following the service.

“The event is free, but RSVPs are requested,” said Karla Riggs Norton, Franciscan Health bereavement coordinator. “Bring as many family and friends as you wish.”

To RSVP, contact Karla Riggs Norton at (317) 528-2636 or email karla.norton@fransicanalliance.org. Those who respond by email or phone in advance will receive a special handmade Christmas ornament from Bronner’s Christmas Store in Frankenmuth, MI.

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