Holidays are hard, resources to help
December 20, 2016
December 21 is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. And it is also a celebration of the Solstice. December's solstice is officially on December 21 at 3:44 a.m. MST.
And while many will celebrate the solstice, there are some who feel it is the darkest day, and truly the longest night. Those suffering from recent losses, endings or even the winter blues may feel it more.
Here in Grand County there are resources such as Mind Springs Health in Granby to assist residents who may need help with depression or depressing thoughts.
Mind Springs in Granby
Matthew Carlson, Program Coordinator at Mind Springs Health in Granby said that client interaction at Mind Springs does increase during the holiday and peaks in mid-January.
"Holidays are a harder time for some because it brings up things from the past. Things that might not be happy," Carlson said.
Carlson recommends several resources to use if you are feeling depressed during the holidays.
Start with yourself, he said.
"Use positive self-talk. Seek out social support from people in your life who share the same values. Recreate."
Look to your family members and look to positive relationships.
Also look to external support groups such as GriefShare, AA or NA.
The key is to interact with social groups when you are feeling down during the holiday. Work out, join ski clinics.
However, Mind Springs exists when you need more help.
"We exist for the community and employ 13 staff members including social workers."
A joint effort, Mind Springs offers Mental Health Navigator programs in partnership with the Grand County Rural Health Network.
Mind Springs offers crisis services around the clock, 365 days a year to help people in need.
"It is geared for the community, no one else provides this service," said Carlson.
Church of the Eternal Hills in Tabernash
Rev. Paula Daniel Steinbacher, pastor at Church of the Eternal Hills offers a service called, The Longest Night; a service to help people who are suffering from grief and sadness during the holiday.
With the busy Christmas season at hand I emailed Pastor Paula a few questions about the service and who should attend:
You are the only church in the area that does a service like this. How did it start and what was the reason for starting it? How long have you and Church of the Eternal Hills been offering this?
In 2012, the year of the terrible Sandy Hook shooting, I noted that community members were really suffering with negative emotions and grief. It seemed like the death of so many children made many people's depression and hopelessness come to the surface. As I was looking for a way to help our community process the tragedy and share in their grief together, I learned about a "Blue Christmas" or "Longest Night" service, that gave room for the sadness so many people feel at this time of year. The first service was meaningful and helpful for many people, so we began observing a Longest Night Service every year in my churches in Kansas and Oklahoma. When I arrived at Church of the Eternal Hills, I was pleased to find that my predecessor, Rev. Bill Sanders, had already begun observing the "Longest Night" service, and I knew we needed to continue it.
What will the service be like?
The service is going to be quiet and contemplative. Our music will be acoustic guitar, played by our worship leader Glen Tompkins. There will be prayers, scripture readings of lament and promise, poetry readings, as well as silence and a time to light candles in hope.
Is it geared toward younger people, older people?
The service is not geared toward a specific age group. I would imagine it would be difficult for a young child to sit through it, because it is so quiet and a much slower pace than a typical Sunday morning worship service. However, I love to have children in services, so if the parent feels the child needs to express their grief or receive comfort from others who feel no joy, they should know their child will be welcomed with open arms.
Do you have to be a member of the church or any denomination to attend?
This service, like all of our services, is open to any and all people regardless of age, creed, or affiliation.
Is there a cost to attend?
There is absolutely no charge to attend the service, and we won't be taking up a collection.
Can you attend even if you don't have a faith?
There will be prayers and scripture readings, but I don't think the service would be offensive to someone who doesn't have a faith or doesn't belong to a church. It would probably even be acceptable for someone whose faith is not Christian. There is strength found in community, and in knowing others are hurting and you're not the only one. So even if our sacred writings are not the same, we can still derive strength and courage from one another.