Tree of Angels 02

Ronnie Ballard places an ornament on the Tree of Angels in December 2011 at the Central Presbyterian Church in remembrance of his son, Dylan, who was killed in a car accident that year. The Ballards were a few of the many people on hand at the church attending the People Against Violent Crime's ninth annual Tree of Angels ceremony, held in memory and support of victims of violent crime.

The holidays are upon us. Your anticipation is overwhelming. You are wondering how you will cope with the approaching holiday season.

This time of year is difficult if you have lost a loved one, whether through a natural death or by the actions of another. Your feelings are your own, and no one else can tell you how you should be feeling. You are the one who has to deal with daily life in wake of your loss. The life you once knew is no longer the same. However, there are ways to cope with your life now to try to make the best of your new normal during this holiday season. Here are some suggestions to help you cope:

Start a new tradition. Your loved one will clearly be missed if you go back to the same customs when they were alive. If you have always had your holiday meals at one place, choose to celebrate somewhere else. The more you try to make it the same as before, the more your loved one’s absence will be felt.

Think of new ways to celebrate the holiday: if your finances allow, go on a trip, or if you must stay closer to home think of inviting family members or friends you enjoy being around. If others seem hesitant to talk about your loss, break the ice by mentioning the deceased’s name so others know that it is important for you to talk about them. The memories will be too hard to endure if you continue established traditions. It is not like you are trying to forget your loved one, just trying to get through the holiday without excessive grief.

Balance solitude with sociability. Solitude can renew strength. Being with people who love you can help you feel less lonely. Attend some holiday gatherings even if you aren’t up to it. You can leave early if you want to. You may surprise yourself by having a good time. Don’t feel guilty if you do.

Relive the happy memories. Pick three special memories of past holidays with your loved one. Think of them often and allow yourself to smile. It’s good to feel both happiness and sorrow. Set aside “letting go” time. Schedule time in your planner or calendar for grieving.

Choose to be with people who have suffered a similar loss at a ceremony for people who are victims of crime, the 17th annual Tree of Angels ceremony is meant to help families in the aftermath of tragedy. Central Presbyterian Church plays host to the Tree of Angels where a special Christmas tree will be placed for victims and their families to place a special angel ornament on the tree to honor the memory of their loved one.

The ceremony will be Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church. There will be a reception following the ceremony. Come join us as we remember all the people who have suffered a tremendous loss or are victims of violent crime.

Jane Adams is the victim assistance coordinator with the Lamar County District Attorney’s Office.

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