Dealing with grief? Tap into resources

The holidays can be an incredibly happy time — laughing, listening to holiday music, opening gifts, enjoying deliciously prepared food and probably most of all, being with loved ones. But when you have lost a loved one, the holidays can be frightening, sad and even traumatic.

I remember my first Christmas at home after my father had died. I didn’t want to decorate at all. My oldest sister was helping string lights onto shrubs in the front yard when I had a meltdown.

I threw down the lights I was holding and ran crying into the house yelling, “Who cares if I decorate or not? Dad won’t be here to see it!”

My sister finished the decorating. I honestly don’t remember how many times I turned on those lights or if they were turned on at all. But I did get through the holiday.

For those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one this holiday season, the library is sponsoring a Nov. 16 program with Suzy Milhoan, a local author who lost her husband to colon cancer. As a result of losing Kevin so suddenly, Milhoan began journaling her feelings two weeks after her loss, and those journal entries became the basis for her book, “The Healing Game: A Story of Loss and Renewal,” published in 2012. To register for her program, “Journaling to Facilitate Healing,” log onto, and click the “events” tab located at the top of the page.

The library has many books dealing with grief. Subject words to look for include grief, bereavement, loss (psychology) and consolation. You may also find help in looking for books regarding broken homes, divorce or divorced people.

We have biographies, spiritual books, psychology books and even fiction works that deal with grief. A fiction book that deals with grief may sound strange, but I’ve found that even fiction books can give you some insight or provide thought-provoking material.

There is no right or wrong way to get through grief, and there is no one way to do it. It has to feel comfortable for you. Rely on friends and family members whenever possible.

Your life has changed as a result of your grief and eventually you will adapt to a new normal. Most of us have lost a loved one. It’s not a unique club, but one that we were not asked to join. I used to feel alone in my grief, but a movie scene once included the line, “So now, all alone or not, you gotta walk ahead. Thing to remember is if we’re all alone, then we’re all together in that, too.”

Other great resources include, Hospice of South Central Indiana’s bereavement program ( and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) website at These are just a few of the local grief support groups.

However, if you are feeling totally overwhelmed and even perhaps suicidal, please call someone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

Missy Henderson is a Technical Services Department Assistant at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at [email protected]