Hope for the Holidays at Arborlawn UMC offers comfort, hope
and inspiration for people grieving during Thanksgiving
and the holidays.
This annual service is a safe harbor
for those who have experienced loss in its many forms.
Arborlawn United Methodist Church has announced its annual Hope for the Holidays worship service, created for and dedicated to individuals and families struggling with grief in its various forms. The inter-denominational service, open to the public at no charge, will begin at 7:00 p.m., on Thursday, November 19, 2015, in the sanctuary. Arborlawn offers transportation for those who might need it, as well as childcare for families with young children.
“The holidays can be darker than ever imagined for all who struggle with grief in its various forms,” explained Deb Sewell, event founder. “Anyone struggling with the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, a loss of a job or a move to a new home in an unfamiliar city often looks at the holidays with a sad heart. Hope for the Holidays can help. Our goal is to normalize what these people are feeling.”
Eleven years ago, Hope for the Holidays was founded as a response to the difficulties that often arise when society encourages those experiencing grief to join right in with the holiday festivities, forgetting that the sights and sounds may trigger painful memories that increase hurt.
According to Ms. Sewell, highly experienced in grief and bereavement support, one of the key elements of the service is an opportunity for audience members to hear that first holiday song since experiencing a loss.
“Without exception, every grief group I have facilitated has expressed that they could face the holidays were it not for that first Christmas carol,” she explained. “We understand and have created a way to reintroduce the music into their lives in a gentle, understanding way.”
The Hope for the Holidays service presents inspirational talks, prayer, choreographed ballet, a string quartet, and exquisite choral arrangements. During the ceremony, attendees are invited to place an emblem or token of loss on the altar -- a picture, a flower, a trinket or another meaningful symbol of loss. Tenderly interwoven into the service are pragmatic ideas about navigating the holiday season within these complex situations.
Among them, Hope for the Holidays offers these recommendations:
- First, remember to be just as compassionate and considerate of yourself as you would be with someone else grieving a significant loss. Lower your expectations of yourself and others around you who are also grieving.
- Don’t be afraid to express feelings of grief, sadness or loss. Find caring, compassionate friends and relatives who will be patient with you. Be honest about how difficult certain aspects of the holiday season can be.
- Be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits, because whenever grief revisits, so does its partner -- fatigue. Anticipate lower energy. Listen when your body tells you to “slow down and stop.” Keep your heart and eyes open to see, as you are able, simple blessings. Appreciate these blessings with thankful peace.
- Join us at Hope for the Holidays, designed expressly for you.