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Helping Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season

by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Holidays are often difficult for anyone who has experienced the death of someone loved. Rather than being times of family togetherness, sharing and thanksgiving, holidays can bring feelings of sadness, loss and emptiness.

Love Does Not End With Death

Since love does not end with death, holidays may result in a renewed sense of personal grief-a feeling of loss unlike that experienced in the routine of daily living. Society encourages you to join in the holiday spirit, but all around you the sounds, sights and smells trigger memories of the one you love who has died.

No simple guidelines exist that will take away the hurt you are feeling. We hope, however, the following suggestions will help you better cope with your grief during this joyful, yet painful, time of the year. As you read through this article, remember that by being tolerant and compassionate with yourself, you will continue to heal.

Talk About Your Grief

During the holiday season, don’t be afraid to express your feelings of grief. Ignoring your grief won’t make the pain go away and talking about it openly often makes you feel better. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen-without judging you. They will help make you feel understood.

Be tolerant of Your Physical and Psychological Limits

Feelings of loss will probably leave you fatigued. Your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. And lower your own expectations about being at your peak during the holiday season.

Eliminate Unnecessary Stress

You may already feel stressed, so don’t overextend yourself. Avoid isolating yourself, but be sure to recognize the need to have special time for yourself. Realize also that merely “keeping busy” won’t distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and postpone the need to talk out thoughts and feelings related to your grief.

Be With Supportive, Comforting People

Identify those friends and relatives who understand that the holiday season can increase your sense of loss and who will allow you to talk openly about your feelings. Find those persons who encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings-both happy and sad.

Talk About the Person Who Has Died

Include the person’s name in your holiday conversation. If you are able to talk candidly, other people are more likely to recognize your need to remember that special person who was an important part of your life.

Do What Is Right for You During the Holidays

Well-meaning friends and family often try to prescribe what is good for you during the holidays. Instead of going along with their plans, focus on what you want to do. Discuss your wishes with a caring, trusted friend.

Talking about these wishes will help you clarify what it is you want to do during the holidays. As you become aware of your needs, share them with your friends and family.

Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings

Decide which family traditions you want to continue and which new ones you would like to begin. Structure your holiday time. This will help you anticipate activities, rather than just reacting to whatever happens. Getting caught off guard can create feelings of panic, fear and anxiety during the time of the year when your feelings of grief are already heightened. As you make your plans, however, leave room to change them if you feel it is appropriate.

Embrace Your Treasure of Memories

Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. And holidays always make you think about times past. Instead of ignoring these memories, share them with your family and friends. Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness. If your memories bring laughter, smile. If your memories bring sadness, then it’s alright to cry. Memories that were made in love-no one can ever take them away from you.

Renew Your Resources for Living

Spend time thinking about the meaning and purpose of your life. The death of someone loved created opportunities for taking inventory of your life-past, present and future. The combination of a holiday and a loss naturally results in looking inward and assessing your individual situation. Make the best use of this time to define the positive things in life that surround you.

Express Your Faith

During the holidays, you may find a renewed sense of faith or discover a new set of beliefs. Associate with people who understand and respect your need to talk about these beliefs. If your faith is important, you may want to attend a holiday service or special religious ceremony. As you approach the holidays, remember: grief is both a necessity and a privilege. It comes as a result of giving and receiving love. Don’t let anyone take your grief away. Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. And allow yourself to be surrounded by loving, caring people.

Blessings of the Season

Welcome Marion Hornell

Dan and I are pleased to welcome Marion Hornell to our funeral home. Marion with her over 20 years in catering, will be offering her catering services to the families at the funeral home.  Marion’s homemade foods provide families the opportunity to come together with family and friends during and in-between visitations, as well as after services.  Welcome Marion!

Gregory Drive Alliance Church – GriefShare


Gregory Drive Alliance Church

255 Gregory Dr. W. Chatham, ON N7L 0E2

Contact person

Janie Anderson – Nina Van Kesteren, GriefShare Coordinators
Send message

Registration Fee


Child care

Not available

Meeting room


Church sponsor

Gregory Drive Alliance Church


For more information view:

Visit us on Facebook

Visit us on Facebook.   Find us at “Alexander & Houle Funeral Home”.  We will share community events and happenings, and a little bit of life’s moments with you.

Pre-Planning Just Makes Sense

It is not something we like to think about, let alone talk about.  But it something all of us will experience.  The loss of a loved one.  We invite families to start the conversation with us.  Dan and Dianne will share their expertise and compassion with families that need  to make these decisions, whether at a time of loss or in pre planning a loved one’s service.  Let’s start the conversation today.

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now”  ~ Alan Lakein

Pre-Planning Just Makes Sense…Call for an appointment today.  519-352-2710


A Time To Mourn

The Blenheim and Area Bereavement Support Program:

known as “…a time to mourn…”

A significant personal loss created a need for support and education in her own grief journey. After volunteering for several years, she became a student of Dr. Alan Wolfelt, PhD., the director of the Centre for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado.

Seven years of coordinating the Bereavement Program and Seven Death and Grief Studies Certificates bring Dixie to the Wellness Centre, where she continues to “companion” the bereaved.

Services Offered:

We offer:                                    For the bereaved through:

  • Support                                     * One-on-One sessions
  • Education                                  * Workshops
  • Hope                                         * Support Groups


We are located at the McLauchlin Wellness Clinic – 110 Talbot Street, Blenheim ON N0P 1A0 Phone: (519) 676-3311

To The Families of Chatham-Kent

It is with great sense of accomplishment, that Dan and I are able to cordially invite the families of Chatham-Kent to share in an afternoon of celebration in the completion of the Alexander & Houle Funeral Home, on Sunday June 26th, from 1 to 4 p.m. After many months of planning, designing, and construction, Dan and I have completed the funeral home. Jorden and Cook Architect Ltd. assisted in designing a building that incorporated some of the historical features of our prior building. With the help and wonderful friendship of Ron Male and his family, we built a home that would be welcoming and comforting to its families. Many people and businesses in this community of Chatham-Kent shared in our journey of building our new home. They shared their time, talents, enthusiasm and pride in the construction and completion of the funeral home. Dan and I could not be more proud and thankful of their efforts. Together we created a home built by, and for, our community.

Special thanks to Westhoek Construction for their assistance on this project. We could not have done this without you! For the many trades that contributed their own special expertise, we thank you. Construction on the building began in early September and by the beginning of May what we envisioned came to be. Again with the support of our community, our building’s interiors were furnished by many local merchants.

After the fire and while our new home was being built, we were able to continue to serve our community of Chatham-Kent with the help of Kevin Cavanagh and his funeral home, Haycock-Cavanagh. Heartfelt gratitude is extended to Kevin and his wonderful staff, and family, for their assistance and unconditional support and friendship.

To our community, we are so blessed. Thank you for your support throughout our journey. Your many acts of kindness and thoughtfulness will never be forgotten. We are proud and honoured to serve the families of Chatham-Kent. To our staff (our funeral family), John Saunders, Bob Belbeck, Bob Smith, Evelyn Reeve, Susan Brooks, Cheryl Crow, Sandra Barnes and Kathy Mallot, thank you for simply just being you and for the love you always abundantly share with our family and the families we serve.

Shortly after the fire Jim and Lisa Gilbert wrote an article entitled “Funeral Home Loss Akin To Death In Family”, explaining that “Summerlands” (a name given to the original home) can be explained as a place “where souls can pause, reflect, and then go on to their reincarnation”. May our new funeral home, our staff, and our own family, create a home that embodies the true essence of its previous families and past funeral home owners. This home has been created with much love and respect for each and all that pass through its doors.

Please join us on Sunday afternoon and enjoy celebrating the completion of the funeral home.

Kindest Regards,
Anne, Dan, Jacob & Sarah Houle

Experience the difference caring makes

Latest News

Helping Yourself Heal During the Holiday Season

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Blessings of the Season

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Welcome Marion Hornell

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Gregory Drive Alliance Church – GriefShare

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Visit us on Facebook

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Alexander & Houle Funeral Home Ltd
245 Wellington Street West,
Chatham, Ontario
N7M 1J9

Phone: 519.352.2710
Fax: 519.352.7372

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