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Nonprofit hospice support programs help with loss

The upcoming holiday season can be difficult for individuals and families who have lost a loved one.

Nathan Adelson Hospice in Pahrump is sponsoring some events to help those dealing with grief, sadness, or depression during an otherwise festive time.

The final two workshops, “Getting Through the Holidays,” will be held on Tuesday, Nov.17 and Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Nathan Adelson Hospice office at 2270 E. Commercial Road, Suite A/B.

“It’s statistically been found that when those remaining spouses or family go through a support process or a bereavement process, the physician visits are cut down by probably half,” according to Susan Holecheck, community outreach manager for Nathan Adelson Hospice. “It’s really important that people understand that when someone has passed away in their life the grieving is not only appropriate, it’s necessary.”

Cheryl Johnston, a licensed social worker for the hospice organization, agreed that it is necessary to move forward and the holidays can become especially difficult since those are traditional times when family members and your loved ones are usually there.

“You find that family members or friends are reluctant to discuss the person who has passed because they’re afraid it may tear open old wounds where, reality is, that sometimes you need that discussion, you need that release,” Johnston said.

She compared the grieving process to experiencing waves in the ocean.

“When the loved one first passes, you’ve got some pretty big tidal waves coming over you as grief,” Johnston explained. “But, as time passes, it’s not that the waves go away, they are just spaced differently.”

She added that anniversaries such as birthdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving add another big wave of emotions, “but maybe they’re spaced further and you can see it coming. And that’s why these programs are necessary.”

Their annual “Light Up A Life” service will be held Dec. 8 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Desert Greens Community Clubhouse, 350 W. Wilson Road.

Candles will be lit for lost loved ones, and Johnston will be the pianist for the service.

“It’s non-denominational, but there is a prayer offered and some words spoken by the chaplain to just honor those that have gone at a time when so many are celebrating and you may not feel like it,” Johnston said.

Holecheck said the service is for everyone, even if their loved one passed away five years ago.

Nathan Adelson has been in Pahrump for over 15 years and these events are specifically geared toward the area residents. The events are open to the community whether or not family members or friends were under hospice care.

Matthew Metevelis, hospice chaplain supervisor, and Richard S. Martin, the new chaplain for Nathan Adelson in Pahrump, will lead the service during the “Light Up A Life” program next month.

Chaplain Martin is also leading the discussions during the Tuesday bereavement workshops and offered some advice on getting through the holidays while mourning a loss.

He said planning is important even before the holidays get here.

That plan should include ways to best celebrate the holidays even though things will not be the same after a loss.

Some people may find it helpful to keep their normal routine such as keeping busy, cooking the same meals and desserts or going to the same parties.

“But, for a lot of people that’s not going to be helpful because there’s going to be too much emotion and they might need to make some new traditions and to celebrate in different ways,” Martin said.

Something as simple as a song on the radio can bring back so much “emotional energy,” the feeling that it’s never going to be the same, especially in the first year after a spouse or close loved one has passed, Martin said.

“One particular tip that we give people is to get a grief partner, somebody who’s going to be specifically invested in helping you through the holidays, going with you to parties, interceding in conversations when it’s clear that it’s too much,” Martin said. “If appropriate, praying for you as you go through particularly difficult times and family gatherings.”

No two people’s grief will be the same and each person’s “journey” through the holidays is unique and that’s fine, added Martin.

The hospice is asking that anyone interested in attending the “Light Up A Life” program respond by Dec. 2 by calling 775-751-6700.

No reservations are needed for the November workshops.

There are 5,800 hospices in the country, only 30 percent, including Nathan Adelson, are not for profit. Last year, they provided approximately $1 million in uncompensated care for individuals who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid.

These funds are raised by their annual Festival of Trees Gala in which groups, individuals, organizations and businesses buy trees or wreaths and decorate them before they are auctioned off. This year’s event will be held Friday, Dec. 4, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Mountain Falls Golf Club.

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