Hospice staff host holiday event of remembrance
For many, Christmas is a time of excitement. But for all too many others, the emptiness of a chair at the dinner table or the lack of a name on a package under the tree can overshadow the joy of "the most wonderful time of the year."
For the past 22 years, Mt. Hood Hospice in Sandy has hosted a Time of Remembering for those missing loved ones during the holidays. This year's event is from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Sandy Baptist Church, 34435 S.E. Jarl Road, Boring.
"We partially do it during the holidays because it's a hard time for people," said Mt. Hood Hospice's bereavement coordinator Valerie Hayden.
Oftentimes what makes the holidays difficult for those grieving is the change it causes in traditions. A lot of people don't want to continue old traditions without a missing loved one.
"It really is all about community, and that's what we need," she added. "It's an opportunity to just have your feelings."
The event will include music, a reading of names, lighting of candles and viewing of a memorial video. Everyone is invited, whether Mt. Hood Hospice cared for their loved(s) one or not.
In her roles, including social worker, Hayden works with many who are either in the final stage of their lives or are losing a loved one. Usually, she only sees the patient when they're ill and not in the prime of their life.
This event is an opportunity for her to "get to see this person not (just) as a sick person," Hayden noted.
"I feel really blessed that people let me in their lives," she added. "This is the person they fell in love with or had a deep connection with."
Hayden herself has honored several of her loved ones at the event over the years, including her mother, father, grandmother and two brothers.
"For me it was pretty profound to be able to share that," she explained. "I think people see you differently."
Hayden noted that unlike at a wedding where everyone is happy to share their love and be there for the couple in question, when one loses someone, others often don't want that grief shared with them.
"Death is taboo in our culture," Hayden said.
It is looked down upon when one grieves for "too" long.
"Here you are and you've suffered this loss, and when you're grieving, it's not something people want to share with you," she explained. "(But) it doesn't just go away. (Our loved ones) are with us for the rest of our lives."