Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 10, 2013

Fred Goldenberg: Healing the heart this holiday season

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — I think the first time it really hit me was in June on my birthday.

My Mom was notorious for remembering your birthday the day after the actual date. She’d call me the next day and say when she finally remembered “it was too late to call” and she was sorry. I’d laugh and say it was no big deal and it was nice to still be getting calls twenty four hours later.

Only this year, there was no call, and I missed it a lot.

I don’t want to get maudlin here and make you think that her death has debilitated me and made me incapable of functioning. Far from it, but what it has done is made me acutely aware of what it is to grieve and miss someone you loved. There is a hole in my life that was filled by my mother and can never be replaced. I was the youngest and she delighted in telling people I was her baby —even on my 60th birthday.

This will be my first holiday season without mom. My wife won’t be coming home from shopping and show me the great slippers or socks without seams that would be perfect for a person suffering from neuropathy. No family dinner where we get on Skype to talk to all those unable to be at the table in person. The circle of life continues but those linked together change and I now find myself as the patriarch of our immediate family.

I don’t like it, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it either. I also know that there are many of you reading this that are feeling the same way. Your heart may be heavy due to the loss of a parent or grandparent, a spouse, a child or a favorite aunt or dearest friend. It really doesn’t matter who —- the effect on you is hard and in some case devastating.

We are lucky to be living in a caring community that has several organizations providing multiple opportunities for those of us grieving to get support, especially during the holidays. A lot of people believe they can deal with grief on their own and don’t need help. But there is something to be said about a group gathering where words are spoken, tears are shed and people reach out to each other helping to heal their hearts. I like to call it the “hug factor.”

For those of you who need this support, here is a list of the organizations and their programs for you to take advantage of during this holiday season:

n Nov. 14 — Community Memorial Service, sponsored by Hartland Hospice at 7 pm, call 231-935-3089

n Nov. 16 — Holidays and Grief, sponsored by Reynolds-Jonkhoff at 10 a.m., call 231-947-6347

n Nov. 20 — Hope for the Holidays, sponsored by Hospice of Michigan at 1 p.m., call 231-929-1557

n Dec. 2 — Candlelight Memorial Service, sponsored by Michael’s Place at 6 p.m., call 231-947-6453

n Dec. 8 — Love Light Celebration, sponsored by Munson Home Health Hospice at 2 p.m., call 231-935-2924

n Dec. 8 — Candle Lighting ceremony, sponsored by Compassionate Friends at 6:30 p.m., call 231-946-5462

Dec. 14 - Surviving the Holidays, sponsored by Faith Reformed Church at 9 a.m., call 231-947-7082

May this holiday season find your hearts filled with love and may your memories be forever.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a pre and post retirement income specialist and certified health insurance advisor in Traverse City. If you have any questions or comments about this article or any other senior issue he can be reached at 231-922-1010 or