Sunday, December 7, 2008

Santa Barbara Independent: Tender Hearts, Tender Times

Goleta Church Helps the Grieving Through the Holidays
By Elena Gray-Blanc

Sunday, December 7, 2008

For most, the holiday season is one of cheer. For others, most notably those who have suffered a loss — be it the death of a loved one, a divorce, or other trauma — Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year, and all the attending merriment can be insult added to injury, a constant and contrasting reminder of grief.

Reverend Erika Hewitt, minister at Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Goleta, has set out to provide a comforting, open, and pressure-free environment for anyone in the community who might be grieving, and is holding a “Tender Hearts, Tender Times” service on Sunday, December 14.

“Sometimes,” Hewitt said in a recent phone conversation, “the merriness gets forced down our throats… That first Christmas [after a loss], people lose their bearings. They don’t know how it’s ‘supposed’ to be. [Live Oak] is creating space to acknowledge that.” And what makes Rev. Hewitt’s service so special is that it is just and only that — an acknowledgement of trouble and grief, without any pressure to share a story or emote. “I don’t ask questions,” she said. “And we’re not going to go around the circle and talk about it.”

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