Tis the season! The season for snuggling up by a cozy fire, hot chocolate in hand, a favorite movie on the television and your family by your side. The season for hustling and bustling to find the best Black Friday deals and the perfect Christmas gifts. The season to give more than you receive, to fill the buckets of the bell ringers and brighten someone else’s day with a random act of kindness.
Unfortunately, it’s also the season that reminds some they cannot afford to buy their children Christmas gifts because they lost their jobs. The season that paralyzes others with anger and resentment as they face the first, second or 10th holiday without their spouse or parent. The season that causes some parents to refuse to put up a tree, smile or even get out of bed because they no longer get to see the light in their baby girl’s eyes when she sees her presents on Christmas morning. The season where individuals relive the heartbreak of a life that once was before they lost their job, before the divorce, before their son was deployed, before their parents died, before they buried their child.
The past several years, the Behavioral Health Alliance of Grundy County has worked with several organizations to ensure those hurting during the holidays have a place to express their grief and get connected with resources available to them to heal. We refer to these events as Blue Christmas.
Although the Behavioral Health Alliance does not facilitate any of the Blue Christmas events, we assist in promoting these events. This year, there are five Blue Christmas events in Grundy County in November and December.
U.C. Davis-Callahan Funeral will host “Preparing for the holidays” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at 301 W. Washington St. in Morris. U.C. Davis-Callahan’s grief counselors – Kristi Condon, Joan Sereno and Carol Walker – as well as the Rev. Dr. Roy Backus will be available that evening. If need be, the counselors can meet one on one with an individual. Transportation is available by calling 815-942-0084. All are welcome to attend.
At 7 p.m. Dec. 2, Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd, 205 Liberty St. in Gardner, will host a Blue Christmas event at 7 p.m. Reeve’s grief counselors will be on site that evening to assist with the program. All are welcome to attend. For information contact Reeve’s Funeral Homes at 815-237-2526.
On Dec. 6, Angels of Hope will hold its annual Candlelight Remembrance Vigil at 7 p.m. in Coal City’s Campbell Park. Although all are welcome to attend, this event will specifically cater to those suffering from the physical absence of a child. Attendees are encouraged to bring a white flower to place at the base of the angel statue in remembrance of their child.
First United Methodist Church, 118 W. Jackson St. in Morris, will host a Blue Christmas event at 7 p.m. Dec. 16. All are welcome to attend; for information contact the church at 815-942-0809.
At 7 p.m. Dec. 23, the Coal City United Methodist Church, 6805 E. McArdle Road in Coal City, will host a Blue Christmas event. All are welcome to attend; for information contact the church at 815-634-8670.
Each of these Blue Christmas events offers an opportunity for those hurting during this holiday season to connect with other individuals in similar situations. The events allow a time to share with others, find validation for your feelings and tips for moving forward, even though life is now different. Our hope is these Blue Christmas events will help attendees tolerate and even enjoy the holiday season again.
The Behavioral Health Alliance is made up of individuals and organizations that have an interest in behavioral health issues. We meet the fourth Wednesday of each month, except December and July, at 3 p.m. in the Canal Port Conference Room. For information contact Devan at 815-941-0852.
• Devan Gagliardo is the program director for the Community Foundation of Grundy County.