Grieving During the Holidays

For many people, the holiday season is a special time of year marked by celebrations and gatherings with family and friends. For those struggling with the death of a loved one, the holidays may be a difficult time full of painful reminders that emphasize their sense of loss.

Below are some suggestions on how to deal with the grief and eight ways to help friends and family members who are affected by a loss. Please also visit our page on Grief Support for helpful links, books, and videos aimed at adults and children.

A Checklist for Coping With Holidays and Family Celebrations

Eight Tips on Helping People Who Are Grieving During the Holidays

  1. Be supportive of the way the person chooses to handle the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.
  2. Offer to help the person with decorating or holiday baking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving.
  3. Offer to help with holiday shopping. Share catalogs or online shopping sites that may be helpful.
  4. Invite the person to join you or your family during the holidays. You might invite them to join you for a religious service or at a holiday meal where they are a guest.
  5. Ask the person if he or she is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen or working with children, may help your loved one feel better about the holidays.
  6. Never tell someone that he or she should be “over it.”  Instead, give the person hope that, eventually, he or she will enjoy the holidays again.
  7. Be willing to listen.  Active listening from friends and family is an important step to helping some cope with grief and heal.
  8. Remind the person you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died. Cards, phone calls and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

“One of the best ways to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care and that their loved one is not forgotten,” said J. Donald Schumacher, PsyD, president and CEO of National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “Lending an ear and holding a hand can be one of the greatest gifts we can give.”

Many people are not aware that their community hospice is a valuable resource that can help people who are struggling with grief and loss.

For more information visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care website

Thanks for attending our 2014 Annual Conference!

   We are grateful to all of our attendees for bringing such good energy and enthusiasm to the event. Thanks also to our sponsors for making this day possible, and to our exhibitors who brought wonderful information, services and "goodies' to share.
Dr Alan Kono, a featured presenter at this year's event.    
    Dr Mary Brown, this year's winner of the 2014 Ira Byock & Yvonne Corbeil Award

11th Annual Golf Tournament

11th Annual Golf Tournament Golfer    Thank you for making this year's NHHPCO golf tournament such a success! You helped us raise $7,500 to support our mission to improve access and quality of end of life care in NH.

Save the date for the 12th Annual NHHPCO Golf Tournament:
Friday, August 21, 2015
Stonebridge County Club, Goffstown, NH

2014 Winner of the Ira Byock & Yvonne Corbeil Award

Ira Byock and Yvonne Corbeil Award Winner Mary Braun    Mary Braun, Medical Director of Home Health & Hospice Care in Merrimack and a physician in Palliative Medicine with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Manchester, is the recipient of the Second Annual Ira Byock and Yvonne Corbeil Award for helping "hundreds of patients in their last months of life by facilitating treatment at home and in the Outpatient Palliative Care Clinic she established at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester." For more, view the press release.
Mary Braun, left, receives the award, presented by Janice McDermott (center) and NHHPCO President Carla Braveman (right)    

2013 Annual Report Now Available

Emerging Issues

NHHPCO on The Hill

Kelly Ayotte with NHHPCO members    NHHPCO visited the offices of Sen. Shaheen, Sen. Ayotte, Rep. Kuster and Rep. Shea-Porter as part of the NHPCO Advocacy Intensive on Wednesday June 18th in Washington DC. Joining us were Lynne Randall, MSW from Home Health & Hospice Care, Laurie Farmer, MSW, V.P. of Hospice for Concord Regional VNA, and Beth Slepian, PT, VP Education and Clinical Compliance, Concord Regional VNA.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (center) with Janice McDermott, Lynne Randall, Laurie Farmer, and Beth Slepian    

To better understand this complicated issue visit the Hospice Action Network website. Our Regulatory Page has more on the revised guidelines.

Taking the Fear Out of Palliative Care

This issue brief informs readers about the benefits of palliative care and how to be referred for this comprehensive patient-centered care. Spearheaded by Anne Marie Winkler, an Emerging Issues work group member, and released by the Emerging Issues work group of the NH Comprehensive Cancer Collaboration (NHCCC) in collaboration with the Palliative Care work group. Please share with colleagues, patients and families.

Provider Orders for Life Sustaining-Treatment

The NHHPCO Board of Directors recently voted to support the use of Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), an initiative led by the N.H. Healthcare Decisions Coalition. A successfully implemented, comprehensive POLST strategy respects the wishes of patients and strengthens communication between patients and clinicians and among different health provider organizations. The POLST document reflects current preferences of the patient with serious illness or frailty and answers questions for treatment that goes beyond the portable DNR. See our POLST page for more.