MASON CITY, Iowa - The holiday season is here. It's usually a joyous time, but for those dealing with the loss of a family member or friend, there may be a void at the holiday table and in your heart.
“I lost my husband 8 years ago. He passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.”
Since the passing of her husband, Martin or ‘Marty’, the holidays haven't been quite the same for Sarah Enabnit and her family.
“Grief is a journey and no one grieves the same,” she says.
The first few years were especially hard.
“You think you're prepared, but you're not quite prepared,” says Enabnit.
Sarah says what helps her family during Thanksgiving and Christmas time is talking about Marty to keep his memory alive.
“He loved to work. He was a former marine and he did not give up easily. That's why for 8 years he fought the hard fight and he was determined to do everything he could.”
That's one piece of advice Connie Bleile gives to her patients at Hospice of North Iowa.
“Keep the spirit of your loved one alive and well, talk about it. That's the best time when you are with your family to say remember how mom liked this part of the holiday and just to keep their spirit alive and well is very key,” says Bleile.
According to Hospice of North Iowa, here are some other ways to cope this season:
*Talk to your family about their expectations and your anxieties
*Limit the time you spend with family. Maybe instead of 7 hours you spend 2 or 3 together
*It is okay to say “no” or “maybe”
*Accept there will be mixed emotions and believe that next year will be better
*Know you have the right to mention your loved one’s name
Finally, focus on the most important part of the holiday for you.
“Maybe it's the Christmas tree and kind of letting the other decorations go by the wayside or maybe it's making a good meal that their loved one would have been proud of. Whatever it is just kind of pair it down a little bit,” says Bleile.
As for Sarah, after a few years she found the most peace when helping others.
“I think just the thought of giving back and helping others. They thank you over and over again but becoming a hospice volunteer was really wonderful for me,” says Enabnit.
If you find yourself struggling with grief or loss, Hospice of North Iowa has a whole team of people to help. Just call: 641-428-6208, their services are free.
Tree lighting ceremonies are another way to remember your loved one during the holidays. They are happening across north Iowa this holiday season.