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Blue Christmas: your first holiday after losing a loved one

SASKATOON – The holiday’s are all bright lights and cheer; a time for families to come together. But what about those who lost someone this year?

This Christmas will be unlike any other Melinda Rebalkin has lived before. Earlier this year she lost her mother and the father of her children to unrelated illnesses.

Rebalkin admits some days are better than others.

“I have days when I break down; in my bath tub, when I’m driving, when I’m alone in my vehicle and hear a certain song,” said Rebalkin.

“And you know what? I take the time. Take the time to cry, and reflect.”

The holidays can be a difficult time for many. Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service actually sees and increase in the number of calls during the Christmas season.

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“People are calling to maybe just have a listening ear, someone to just sort out some of those emotions” explains executive director Rita Field. “Sometimes we think we’re inadequate if we feel overwhelmed or stressed, and really its part of a human condition.”

Field says that with the busy nature of the season, some people forget to take care of themselves before committing to social functions.

“If it just starts to slide in to being overwhelmed and perhaps stressed, if we don’t feel that we’ve got enough to draw upon to deal with that, it can be overwhelming.”

READ MORE: Beating the Holiday Blues

For Rebalkin, she relies on the strength of her children, and her spirituality to get her through this difficult time. “I’m grateful that I have my children, and that they are strong. I’m just as strong for them, and they’re strong for me.”

This year Rebalkin and her children will be attending a different kind of Christmas Mass. A Blue Christmas Service will be held this Sunday at the Neighbourhood Church.

Lead pastor John Drisner says that a blue Christmas service is “intended to be a Christmas service that helps people deal with their loss in an atmosphere that won’t be quite as celebratory as some of the other Christmas services across the city.”

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For those who have suffered a recent loss Drisner says it can “really a difficult time.”

“So many people are happy, and it kind of accentuates the fact that they their not as happy, that this Christmas is going to be a sad time for them. They need an opportunity to process that.”

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