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December 2021

December Newsletter
Dear EricsHouse Community,

Welcome to December 2021! As we finish out this year, take a moment to reflect and truly commend yourself. Be proud of the progress you have made. It takes courage, strength, and fortitude to continue to rise when you feel like falling. The holidays can be triggering. EricsHouse is here to walk alongside you and help provide relief when needed. During this time we encourage you to practice self care. Self care looks different for everyone. Calming moments might include going for a walk, journaling, reading or talking with those closest to you. A little self love and community connections go a long way. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

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Letter From Our Founder
Marianne Gouveia
Surviving The Holidays

When you have lost someone, facing the holidays is overwhelming. When my son Eric died, I dreaded the holidays – I tried to avoid them altogether. When we are bereaved by suicide, substance, or other forms of self-harm, the holidays are overshadowed by an intense sense of loss. The world seems to be celebrating with joy and merriment. But our world is in chaos, and we cannot imagine facing the holidays without people we love. We just want to run and hide away from everyone and everything.

This year will be my 6th holiday season without my sweet boy and I am reconciled to it. Once I realized I could give myself permission to celebrate life — including the holidays — I found ways to include Eric. My family stumbled through those first holidays with a mix of tears, sorrow, and profound grief. Over time we found ways to integrate the sweet sadness that Eric wasn’t with us with the joy that comes from celebrating the holidays with those we love on this earthly plane.  

Here are some tips that have helped us survive the holidays:

  1.  Accept the fact that the holidays will be different. You don’t have to do what you did before, do something different. Have breakfast instead of dinner, go on a vacation, go on a healing retreat, or do nothing at all. Whatever you do, seek comfort.
  2. Don’t be hard on yourself. Your emotions are unique to you. Others might not understand. Don’t judge yourself or set your expectations too high. Give your grieving self the permission to be who you are. Those you know who love you will understand and support you.
  3. Prepare to answer tough questions. You might be asked how you are doing. Be honest. Many people are looking for ways to support you. Share your thoughts and feelings in a loving way. If you don’t feel like talking, say: “thank you for asking, perhaps I can share more with you later.”
  4. Make a plan. As everyone is planning and preparing, think about what you would like to do. What new traditions will you try this year? Which old ones will you stop? How much shopping will you do? Will you prepare holiday meals? What about decorating? You may plan to do nothing at all – honor your desires and limitations. You may find new traditions that give you peace, hope, and joy.
  5. Ask for help. Reach out for help. People may want to help but are concerned about intruding or triggering you. Tell them what you need. Sharing your pain with others won’t make it go away, but it can make it more bearable. If you can muster the courage to ask for help, they can find ways to support you.
  6. Don’t feel guilty. Sometimes we feel guilty when we find ways to enjoy the holidays after loss. That is normal, but it is also normal to want to enjoy and celebrate the holidays. Give yourself permission to experience joy when you find it.
  7. Practice gratitude. Keep a journal of the things for which you are grateful. These could be the people who love and support you, the time you had with your lost loved one, your religious or spiritual communities, your family, your hobbies, hiking in nature, or simply reading a book. Gratitude helps to purge your pain and contribute to a feeling of well-being and grounding.
  8. Share memories. Remember your lost loved one. Say their name. Tell their stories and share memories. Celebrate their lives and keep them part of your holidays. Focus on who they are, not how they left us. Create a memory stocking, ask your friends to share a memory or photo in lieu of a gift, create a memory altar, light a candle, start a memory journal, or give someone in need a gift in the name of your loved one. Be creative! 
  9. Prepare for grief bursts and triggers. Those beautiful memories can become triggers. Sometimes tears come at the most inopportune moments. Tears are just one way in which we express our sadness over our loss and are a key part of the healing process. You have the right to experience waves of grief. Just let them be. If you are around people, be honest and say something like “I am missing my child.” People will understand and support you. Anticipate triggers and give yourself permission to cry. Try to embrace your pain in small doses. This is part of the journey.
  10. Help others in need. Being of service to others can be key to our healing process. It refreshes the soul and helps us understand that peace and joy can be found even amid the worst pain. Consider volunteering or giving in a way that honors your loved one. 
  11. Rely on your faith. Regardless of your religious beliefs, spiritual structure, or faith practice – there is something about the holiday season that can encourage a deeper engagement with spirituality. The holidays often spark a need for reflection, introspection, and perspective for spiritual exploration. I encourage you to find your spiritual footing by exploring your relationship with your higher power.
  12. Do not numb the pain. Many of us numb our pain by working too much, shopping too much, volunteering too much, cooking too much, drinking too much, and even abusing drugs or alcohol – all to distract us from feeling our pain. Avoiding our emotions only creates more sadness and isolation. Reach out to people in your community, our family and friends if you need help.

If you need support during the holidays, consider reaching out to a professional counselor or grief specialist. Many valuable resources exist for both in-person and online support. One of those resources is EricsHouse: we provide one-on-one grief support and support groups that run throughout the year. In December, EricsHouse will be launching a Tree of Life campaign as a way to memorialize those we’ve lost. EricsHouse also hosts many online and virtual events such as “Letters from Heaven ” as well as healing modalities for the mind, body, and spirit. Visit www.ericshouse.org if you would like to know more about our services.

Our wish for each of you from those of us at EricsHouse is for a happy and hopeful Holiday Season.
With Love,
Co-Founder and Chairman
The Challenges of Spirituality During the Holidays
by Greg Eckerman
When we lose someone we love, especially to the insidious epidemics of substance abuse, suicide, and sudden violence, we often face a spiritual crisis:  
“How could a loving God let this happen?”
“Where are they now? Are they OK?”
“Why? . . . Why? . . . Why?”

In the holiday season we bereaved are especially challenged to come to terms with our own spirituality. Regardless of your belief structure, this is a time of hope for peace, love of family, and connection with our Higher Power. How can we embrace the holiday spirit when we are so broken, so consumed by our losses?
I believe that, for many of us, it boils down to a core question of faith. We ask ourselves, “Does my loved one continue to exist and are they okay?” If we can muster that small kernel of belief, the holiday season can start to have meaning again.

I don’t mean Faith with a capital F, which is what most people label a formal religious belief system. I mean faith as in the ability to believe in something we can’t ever prove. That kernel of belief opens the possibilities of finding hope and healing and, ultimately, meaning and purpose in our lives.
Some of us are blessed to feel that ongoing connection;dreams, signs and signals, or palpable feelings of love. Many of us don’t, or aren’t sure it’s real. In the end, it still comes back to that kernel of faith.  

Here’s how I’ve chosen to reconcile it: Each of us ‘human beings’ are unique. There is something in us that is much more than just our biochemistry and electrical impulses in our brains and nervous systemsThat special thing that frames our joys and sorrows, makes us appreciate art and music, cry and laugh, drives our love and passions. Let’s keep it simple: I call it our soul and I believe it is a unique form of energy. From there it gets easier. Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but it can be transformed. Therefore, I believe the essence of who we are (our souls) lives on. Our loved ones continue to exist . . . as themselves. C. S. Lewis says it best:

You don’t have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.

As to how our loved ones are doing in the afterlife, how could it not be better? They’ve left this mortal coil and all its misery behind, unconstrained by a frail body, unburdened by the wrongs of the world. They are the perfect forms of themselves.

That’s what I believe.
Of all the pains that life can hand us, arguably the most searing is the loss of a child. During this weekend, just as Jesus joined his distraught disciples on the road to Emmaus, we pray for all of our parents and we ask Jesus to join us as we walk the horrendous journey of grieving our loss every day.

EMMAUS Ministry for Grieving Parents is a unique ministry that serves the spiritual needs of grieving parents whose children of any age have died by any cause, no matter how long ago. We focus on the promise of eternal life and the rich teachings of our faith to help these terribly broken parents.

  • Facilitators: Marianne Gouveia and Greg Eckerman
  • ON CAMPUS at the Franciscan Renewal Center, 5802 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley, AZ
  • When: Friday, December 10th at 4:00 PM until Sunday December 12th at 1:00 PM
To schedule your reading, please contact Melinda’s assistant Izzy at (480) 755-0222 FIRST to secure your time. After you have confirmed your time with Izzy, please contact madison@ericshouse.org to purchase your ticket.

The first session will start at 9:00 am, and appointments will be scheduled consecutively. Please call today to schedule your appointment. (Space is Limited) The cost for an individual reading is $260.00

Melinda Vail – Evidential Medium In these individual sessions, Melinda will share messages from your loved ones so that you have the opportunity to know and understand that he or she is alive and well on the other side of the veil. Melinda is an “evidential” medium, meaning that she will provide information about your loved one that she could not possibly have known. We believe that working with a medium does not replace grieving and mourning your loss. Please realize that reading does not take the place of the grieving process, however, we believe that working with a good medium can be helpful to your healing.

For more information on Melinda Vail, please visit https://melindavail.com

LOCATION: After you set up your appointment with Izzy and have purchased your ticket, you will receive a zoom link. Please note the zoom link will be sent via email right before the start of your session on 12/11.
Join us for the Full Moon Labyrinth Walk. The moon is packed full of energy that is not to be missed. At EricsHouse, we are taking full advantage of this time and invite you to join us in a Labyrinth Walk with Gong. You will be guided to release your burdens and let go of anything that is holding you back as you begin your walk.

There is no charge for this event but you must register to attend.
New Upcoming Workshop!
What if you could connect with your loved one in writing…today? This four-session experiential workshop includes strategies and practice for the seasoned as well as first time journaler.  Learn how to tap into healing memories and connect with your loved one in simple and unique ways. In addition, you will learn to connect with your wisdom figures for support and insight. The rules are simple – write for your eyes only, tell your truth quickly, date everything and most of all, trust the process.

Faciltated by Jean Nictakis and Dr. Sandi Howlett

  • Jump start your journal writing
  • Identify key steppingstones of your life
  • Connect with your loved one in written dialogue

When: January 6, 13, 20, and 27 from 5:30 – 7:00 pm MST (Weekly Workshop every Thursday for 4 weeks)

The fee for all 4 sessions is $45.

Please register by Monday, December 27th so we can order a custom item you will use in the workshop series! Thank you. 
EricsHouse Presents: The Tree of Life!
A New Way to Honor Your Loved One.
The Tree of Life is a custom art installation, created by local artists to help us remember our loved ones. This unique exhibit will be displayed in the center of the EricsHouse facility on a 7′ x 11′ birch panel.

Our Tree of Life will hold the names of people lost to suicide and substance abuse in the leaves on the tree. When you donate $100 in the name of your lost loved one, a personalized leaf will be placed on the tree as a lasting memorial. Only donations through the Tree of Life campaign will receive a leaf. Leaves may also be purchased for friends and family as a gift in their loved one’s honor.
Leaves available NOW!