Hospice events spread holiday warmth and support

The weather is crisp outside, the leaves are falling and the holiday season is fast approaching. Typically, this time of year fills us with joy, laughter and festive gatherings surrounded by those we love. However, holiday traditions may also serve as a reminder of what is missing and the happiness of others can make grieving individuals feel alone.

Hospice of Anchorage recognizes that the holidays aren’t easy for everyone. Our mission is to help individuals and families prepare for and live well with serious and life-limiting illness, dying, and grief. The bereavement program at Hospice of Anchorage is pivotal in honoring our overall mission.

What is bereavement? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, bereavement is “the state or fact of being bereaved or deprived of something or someone.” Loss is a universal human experience, and with loss comes grief. Grief is the natural internal response to loss, and when someone we love dies, feelings of deep sorrow, guilt, anger and hopelessness may coincide.

Internalized grief can manifest in harmful ways, including increased irritability, anger, hyper-alertness, fear, migraines, chest pain. How do we express grief? Through mourning. Mourning is the outward expression of our grief. Our goal is to bolster healthy grieving in the community through education and outreach; mourning is a part of that.

On Nov. 3, 2023, Hospice of Anchorage partners with the Municipality of Anchorage, Providence Hospice Alaska, and Ancora for a community event called Navigating the Holidays. Navigating the Holidays is an annual bereavement event that is free to the community and acknowledges loss and provides individuals with helpful tools for facing grief during the holiday season. After Navigating the Holidays has come and gone, Hospice of Anchorage offers other free grief groups and events to help get you through this holiday season.

Free upcoming Hospice of Anchorage grief support events

Crochet and Commemorate program, Thursday, Nov. 30, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Join us as we weave memories with every stitch. Are you new to crocheting? Not a problem. This event is a volunteer-led group, and no experience is required. 

Comforting Creations: Memorial Ornament event, Thursday, Dec. 9, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Express your creativity and join us. We will gather and personalize a memorial ornament to remember those no longer with us. 

First Annual Cookies and Cocoa Social, Thursday, Dec. 14, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. We will gather with others in our community who have experienced a loss. Bring a plate of your favorite cookies to share. Hot cocoa, coffee and tea will be provided.

If you are interested in our bereavement groups and events, check out the Senior Voice calendar at https://www.seniorvoicealaska.com/page/community-events-calendar/2233.html for more information on Hospice of Anchorage’s upcoming bereavement events.

Stefanie LeBarre is the Hospice of Anchorage Clinical Program Manager.