Hospice helping Victoria residents celebrate departed loved ones over the holidays

Celebrate a Life tree returns to Hillside Centre on Friday

Bonnie Anderson-Stuart is pictured with her husband Jim, on their last trip to Hawaii together in 2010. She says the Celebrate a Life tree allows her to honour Jim’s memory every year. (Photo submitted)

Victoria Hospice is again helping the community celebrate loved ones who are no longer with us this holiday season.

The 32nd annual Celebrate a Life campaign begins Friday at Hillside Centre. Celebrate a Life allows members of the community to remember loved ones during the holiday season by hanging a personalized tribute ornament from Dec. 1 to 12. (This year’s tree location is next to Sears and Paris Jewellers.)

“The Celebrate a Life tree means the world to me,” said Bonnie Anderson-Stuart, who honours the memory of her late husband Jim each year.

After her husband died, Anderson-Stuart came to Victoria Hospice for grief counselling at the urging of her doctor.

“At Hospice, it was emphasized that coming back from the death of a loved one takes a long time, that grief wasn’t linear, that there was no formula for me to fall back on.”

Celebrate a Life supports Victoria Hospice’s commitment to care through bereavement services offered to family members and friends after a death.

“Having the privilege of Victoria Hospice bereavement services changed my life, said Anderson-Stuart. “And what a wonderful idea, to set up the Celebrate a Life tree and encourage the public to fill the branches with tributes.”

Dedicated Hospice volunteers will be on hand at Hillside to assist with this holiday tradition. Tributes may also be made on the virtual Celebrate A Life tree.

During the holidays, memories of past celebrations with family and friends who are no longer here can magnify feelings of loss. It can be helpful to share your concerns, feelings and apprehensions with someone. Let people know what is difficult for you, and accept offers of help. The Victoria Hospice website offers useful information for grieving families including Bereavement Tips for Special Holidays. Here are a few to consider:

  • Think about how you will respond to others when they offer holiday good wishes. You can simply say “Thank you” or “Best wishes to you”
  • Consider cutting back on your holiday traditions by not sending cards, or by enlisting the help of other people with meals and decorating.
  • Consider alternatives such as developing new traditions, going away, eating at restaurants or buying gift cards.
  • Create a special decoration and give it a place of honour.

For more information, visit www.celebratealifevictoria.ca.

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