Cope with HOPE

Hope for the Bereaved to provide workshops on how to get through the holidays

Right around now, retail stores begin to highlight the upcoming season with festive d (c)cor, holiday music and sales to jumpstart consumer spending sprees. Right around now is also the time when many people feel a tight knot in their stomach, knowing this season's expectations will be the most difficult to get through because a loved one has died. Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, New Year's: when your heart is laying heavy, it's most certainly hard to be happy. But, you can learn to cope.

Hope for the Bereaved is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing hope, support and services for those who are grieving -- at any given time of the year. But at this time in particular, the group recognizes the need to offer extra support, which is why it's holding two workshops,"Coping with the Holidays," this month. Those involved in the organization know how to prepare you for the hard road ahead.

Founder Therese Schoeneck established HOPE in 1978 after her daughter Mary Schoeneck was killed in a car accident. She was determined to do something positive, she said, and her mission stands strong today.

Schoeneck said the first Christmas without Mary led her family to volunteer at Unity Kitchen in Syracuse. She said said only a few members went, while others chose to stay home.

"If you had somebody die around the holidays or if this is your first holiday or second holiday -- it gets a lot, lot softer. But I remember the first year," Schoeneck recalled thoughtfully. "I didn't send cards, but on any of the gifts we gave, I signed [Mary's] name. Other parents do that too. People will sign their [loved one's] name on the card or they'll put something special in the card about their child. You just don't want them forgotten."

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