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Dec 07, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- HANDLING GRIEF AT HOLIDAYS

Families dealing with the loss of a loved one during the holidays should remember each person deals with grief differently, a U.S. expert says. "At the holidays, just as during the rest of the year, it is important for people to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to grieve or to approach grief," says Heather Servaty-Seib, assistant professor of counseling and development at Purdue University. "Some people want to continue with all of the same rituals as previous years. Others might want completely to change their holiday rituals, while others may choose to do something between the two extremes." Servaty-Seib says it's important for parents or caregivers to talk with grieving children before making any holiday plans because children will have their own ideas and opinions about what those plans should include. They should also decide together what, if any, role the loved one's memory should play in holiday celebrations.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs that can cause colds and flu. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the National Food Service Management Institute at the University of Mississippi, is promoting a national campaign to help ensure school children understand the importance of hand washing. Some 50 percent of middle-grade students fail to wash their hands after using the restrooms, CDC researchers note. They encourage prominently posted hand washing messages in food preparation areas, near sinks, in bathrooms and on trash cans and refrigerator doors.


University of California, Davis, experts say parents can prevent the thousands of toy-related injuries that lead to a trip to the emergency room. Toy safety information is available online from a variety of organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Researchers advise choosing toys according to a child's age, abilities and interest level; avoiding giving to small children toys with small parts, which can be a fatal choking hazard; avoiding toys that have sharp edges and points; and staying away from electronic toys with heating elements.


University of California, Davis, experts advise against overspending or overtaxing yourself this holiday season to avoid the doldrums. They advise: establish realistic goals and expectations for the holiday season; don't label the holidays a time to cure all past problems; remember the holidays do not prevent sadness or loneliness; limit your drinking; do not force yourself to feel festive; if you have recently experienced a tragedy, death or romantic break-up, tell people about your needs; know your spending limit and stick to it; and, enjoy free holiday activities, such as driving around to look at holiday decorations or window shopping.


(Editors: For more information about GRIEF, contact Servaty-Seib at (765) 494-0837 or For HAND, (662) 915-7658. For TOYS, (916) 734-9040. DOLDRUMS, (916) 734-9040)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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