If you believe Andy Williams and other crooners of Christmas carols, now is the most wonderful time of the year. But for many people, the holiday season can feel more blue than merry and bright. "It's a difficult time of year for people who have experienced the death of a loved one," Lenette Baron tells us.
Finding ways to honor the memories of those lost can make it a little easier. That's why the Mayo Clinic Health System Hospice Program hosts "Set Memories Aglow," an annual tree lighting and remembrance ceremony held the first Sunday in December. "It gives families a chance to reflect on their loved one," Baron, a social worker with the program, says. It also gives them a chance to start a new tradition, something that can help with healing.
"People who have experienced a loss may need to adjust their traditions at Christmas," Baron says. "You don't have to do all the things you've done in the past. Maybe you don't have a tree, or don't do all the decorating or baking that you usually do. That's OK."
The tree lighting and remembrance events are held in Austin, Albert Lea and Red Wing, Minnesota, and include Christmas music and readings about grief, loss and remembrance. Afterward, those gathered are invited to stay for cookies, coffee and conversation.
Baron encourages folks to keep those conversations going at their own holiday gatherings. "People want to talk about the loved one who is gone," she says. "It just takes one person to start the conversation. You can talk about what the person would think about something or what they'd be doing. The most important thing for families to do is share memories and talk about loved ones who are gone. They'll always be there as part of the family, in spirit if not physically."
You can read more about this year's event and see the Austin tree here. Then set us aglow with your warm words below before using the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.