By Cheri Timmons, Director of Support Services at Heartstrings

Well, according to Target, Pottery Barn and Starbucks, we have rolled right into the holiday season again.  While out completing daily to-do lists this time of year, it is customary to be surrounded by festive holiday decorations, pumpkin lattes and the smell of cinnamon.  These sights and smells may fire up your inner holiday cheerleader, but chances are that it is special people and traditions you associate with the holidays that allow you to feel inspired, nostalgic and comforted.

Through decades of personal experiences, we formulate associations with the holiday season. Some of them are joyful and positive, others unexpected and difficult to process. Whether happy or distressing, we adjust, invent and continue holiday rituals that are meaningful to us and our families.

Tradition by definition means ritual or habit. For many of us each year, we choose to participate in traditions that have been a part of our lives for many years. There is a sense of familiarity and comfort in these practices, and we teach them to our children as well. Traditions become an emotional tie to the people and places we love.

Do you enjoy traveling to the same relative’s home for Thanksgiving each year? Perhaps you and your friends annually run the Greensboro Gobbler or Turkey Strut 5k for a good calorie pre-burn. In December do you painstakingly pick out the perfect Christmas tree or bring to life those scrumptious cookie recipes? Those of the Jewish faith are likely to be seen enjoying crispy latkes with family on Hanukkah or watching children (and adults) play dreidel. All traditions we anticipate each year.

When lives change unexpectedly, it can be challenging to follow the same strategy as in past years. It is important to give yourself permission to alter holiday traditions following a significant life change or loss. Financial changes, separation/divorce, death of a loved one or personal health changes are all factors to consider as you prepare for this year’s holiday events.

As families grow and change in these ways it may be best to stop, tweak or even create new traditions that are more realistic and comforting at present. It is important to include family members in the decision making too, as you determine which traditions will change or stay the same this year.  Buying each family member one small gift due to monetary deficits or honoring the memory of a loved one in a unique way can let everyone focus on what is truly meaningful.

This year, Heartstrings™, in collaboration with Triad Moms on Main, will provide Triad families with a special opportunity to remember a loved one and honor past or new holiday traditions. Heartstrings will host a Holiday Remembrance Tree beginning December 2nd through New Year’s Day in the Greensboro Cultural Center Atrium.  Participants may contribute an ornament of their choice or a personalized angel wings ornament provided by Heartstrings.

Personalized ornaments with the name of an honored loved one, friend, or caregiver will be displayed on the tree during the season. A special tree decorating ceremony will be held Monday, December 9th at 6pm for those who wish to hang their ornament, and for those who prefer, Heartstrings will hang their ornament for them. We hope you will make the Holiday Remembrance Tree a new tradition this season, and join Heartstrings and Triad Moms on Main in this special holiday program.

For more information about the Holiday Remembrance Tree,
please click here.

Heartstrings began in 2005, following the personal loss of twin infants by a Greensboro mother. She recognized the powerful impact of support from parents who had survived the loss of a baby themselves. Over the past nine years, Heartstrings has matured into a community of support for grieving parents and the Triad’s specialist for peer-based pregnancy & infant loss support and bereavement education. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support Groups are provided in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point and Kernersville. Also available are Subsequent Pregnancy Support Groups and Connections, a one-to-one mentor support program.

All of the Heartstrings programs focus on creating a safe place for parents to give voice to their loss, learn about grief, know they are not alone and ultimately regain hope in their lives.

Heartstrings continues to evolve to further meet the needs of grieving parents in the Triad. Beginning in January 2014, Heartstrings will offer Child Loss Support Groups for parents who have experienced the loss of a child aged 1-23 years. The Child Loss Support Group will follow the demonstrated Heartstrings Method©, helping parents along in their grief journey towards healing and hope.

If you need help or want to help, please visit our website. While there, please excuse the mess as we revamp our website for the expansion.

Sponsored by Heartstrings