Out of Province


Although certain sights and smells any time of year can trigger Rose Rodrigues' grief for her father, during the holidays and special occasions her feelings become especially intense.
"You get reminded," the Toronto woman, whose father died two years ago, said. "Sometimes you can get busy and do things, but then there are other people in the family that are feeling the same way you are. So you really can't put it on the back burner and pretend it's not happening."

Feeling the loss of a loved one during special occasions can be so painful that holiday time becomes nothing more than a matter of survival, said Stephen Fleming, a psychologist in private practice in Brampton, Ontario and a professor at Toronto's York University.
The prolonged Christmas season, lasting from the beginning of November to the beginning of January can be especially difficult for those who are bereaved.

Still, they can help themselves then or during any special time, by planning ahead, Dr. Fleming said.
"Avoid the shoulds and do what's best for you," he said. That could mean by continuing to get together with family at holiday time, raising a few eyebrows by going away on your own, or by staying at home with the phone unplugged. In any case, Dr. Fleming suggests making your plans reversible in the event things do not go as expected. This could mean, for example, leaving the family celebration, returning home from being away, or plugging the phone back in and joining the family.

However, he cautioned, families with young children would be well advised not to cancel occasions such as Christmas altogether, but to carry on, but in a way that acknowledges the life of the deceased.
Those who are bereaved can also develop a "meaningful ritual." He added, perhaps by spending time at the grave site, or making a donation to a charity in the name of the deceased.

Taking care of yourself becomes especially important during those stressful periods, said Allyson Whiteman, a counselor at Victoria Hospice in B.C., perhaps by having a massage, going for a walk, or getting lots of rest. And, she suggests including children in Christmas decision-making.

Many funeral homes across Canada hold services for the bereaved at Christmas. Yewchin's Funeral Chapel in St. Paul, Alberta among them.
Approximately eight hundred people usually attend. "There's just a great sense of strength and comfort that comes from bringing people together for this," said Caroline Yewchin, the chapel's owner and funeral director.
Said Suzanne Scott, Executive Director of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, "Such services are typical of what many funeral homes offer to families." Others include bereavement support groups, libraries and information pamphlets.

When holiday time arrives for Ms. Rodrigues, a place is set for her father in his old spot at the head of the table. "He's not visually there, but he's still there kind of… and you can still see him there in your heard and in your mind."

BOOK REVIEW: Shared Moments, Finding the Spirit of Hope, by Carol C. Poduch...
See below


Shared Moments, Finding the Spirit of Hope is a book that explores one family's moments of healing and inspiration in the years following the loss of a child. The Poduch family experienced a peace imparting sense of 9-year-old Lauren's presence after her death. Bereaved mother and author, Carol C. Poduch, charted a course to hope and healing while sharing the family's experiences with others in storytelling fashion. Ultimately, she was encouraged to begin writing her stories down. They were published locally in Waterloo, Ontario and eventually picked up on a broader scale. It quickly became apparent that the bereaved, their supporters and also the non-bereaved felt uplifted while hearing tales of Lauren.

The book comprises a series of Carol's stories, vignettes that when experienced collectively take the reader from the moment of shock when a beautiful child sustains an insurmountable head injury through many of the details that bereaved parents must face and ultimately to a place of peaceful resolution.

Carol's conversational writing style draws the reader into her world in a manner that is guaranteed to generate tears, laughter, love and ultimately the integration of one of life's most challenging yet compelling passages - the death of a child.

Shared Moments is a book that bereaved parents will not want to miss, yet the messages are universal. The experiences Carol shares in her book give the bereaved and non-bereaved alike reason to pause and reflect on the nature of life, love, loss and hope after loss.

Visit Carol's website at www.carolpoduch.com or contact carol at carolpoduch@look.ca.


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