Find Help During the Holidays with Hotlines

December 7, 2011 Prism Newsletter
By Jennifer Sladen

Most people look to the holiday season with excitement: seeing family, giving and receiving presents, attending family traditions, and going to holiday parties. However, for someone who has recently experienced loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a divorce, or illness, the holidays can be a sad and anxiety-ridden time. At the same time, a person who has lost a loved one can also feel a sense of guilt for being the “party-pooper” for others. Combined with the general stress of the holidays as well as the difficulty that a person on the autism spectrum may have in expressing grief, this holiday season can be a very difficult time for people and families of people on the autism spectrum who are also coping with a recent loss.

For me, this topic takes on a bigger meaning this year. This holiday season is the first that my family will have without my father, who died earlier this year after a long struggle with breast cancer. While I look forward to the time that I will spend with my family and friends, I am also looking back at memories from holidays past and old traditions that I had with my dad. I remember that I will not be able to wish him “Happy Holidays”; I walk through a book store and remember that I will not be buying him his traditional Dilbert calendar wrapped in the special Dilbert Christmas paper roll I have kept on-hand for him from past years.

I sincerely hope that all of you have a very merry holiday season; however, I know that some of you, like my family and me, will be feeling loss and grief during the season. For those of you who do feel sad, guilty, or anxious about the holiday and do not feel comfortable – for whatever reason – with sharing those feelings with friends and family, I wanted to give you the numbers for a few hotlines that will listen to your feelings.

Hotline Numbers

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Helpline

Number: 1-800-658-8898

Information: Support and information for those who are going through grief.

Additional Resources: More resources available at: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Boys Town National Hotline

Number: 1-800-448-3000

Information: National Hotline for teenagers and families on wide range of subjects. Operators on call; they speak Spanish and have TTD for deaf callers. Online chat is available.

National Suicide Hotline

Number: 1-800-SUICIDE

Information: Crisis line. Automatically routes the call to the nearest crisis center.

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline

Number: 1-877-474-3310 (877-GRIEF-10)

Information: Support for those who have recently lost a pet.

Jennifer Sladen is the Program Associate for the Autism NOW Center.

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