Bristlecone fundraiser helps those dealing with grief during holidays |

Bristlecone fundraiser helps those dealing with grief during holidays

summit daily news

Summit County, CO Colorado

FRISCO ” For about 10 years Joanie Meirick has attended the Tree of Memories.

Each of those years, her son, Mike Meirick, who was killed about 11 years ago in an avalanche near Arapahoe Basin, was one of the names read during the event that honors those who have died.

“This is always a really special time for me personally … I’ve stayed involved all along because it means a lot to me about Mike,” said Meirick who helps create ornaments for the Bristlecone Health Services fundraiser.

She describes it as a “loving gathering” that is therapeutic for those dealing with grief during the holidays. And Wednesday evening at the blue spruce tree outside Frisco Town Hall, Mike’s name will again be read for the 15th annual Tree of Memories.

The ceremony began as a general fundraiser and opportunity to recognize those who have passed, said Jill Benbow, program coordinator at Bristlecone Health Services, the local nonprofit organization that provides hospice care and support services. Names of loved ones and pets who have died will be read and symbolic lights and personalized ornaments can be purchased.

“To me, it’s kind of making peace with the holidays and not having that person there,” Benbow said.

Grief is often exacerbated during the holidays, Benbow explained. And so memorial tree lighting ceremonies are often put on by hospice organizations, she added.

“Attending these events helps people to accept their grief by recognizing their passed loved one ceremoniously, often becoming a holiday tradition.”

Anyone wanting to order a porcelain ornament of a dove in flight personalized with a loved one’s name, $20, or tree lights, $10, and have names read at the Tree of Memories should place the order by 5 p.m. today. The ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Frisco Town Hall, and the money raised during this event will go toward patient care.

Additionally, ornaments can be purchased throughout the month.

For more information or to order a keepsake ornament, call Jill Benbow at 668-5604 or stop by Bristlecone, suite 210 in the Medical Office Building in Frisco. Also, for those in need of support, free grief and loss groups are held twice a week. Contact Bristlecone for more information.

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