The whole world seems consumed with tinsel and glitter - but those who grieve are only aware of the terrible hole in their hearts and in their lives.

The holiday season can be immensely painful and frightening for anyone who must now face many familiar and traditional events without a loved one. We see intact families everywhere - on TV, magazine ads, and greeting cards joyfully celebrating.Phyllis Hansen, medical social worker of Hospice of IHC Home Care, offers these suggestions that may help you cope:

-Don't be afraid to make changes, it really can make things less painful. Open presents Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. Have dinner at a different time at a different home. Let the children take over decorating the tree, making cookies etc.

-Decide what you can handle comfortably and let friends and family know. Others sometimes need your permission to be included in your conversations. Balance solitude with sociability. Solitude can renew strength. Don't plan to be miserable. After the death of a loved one, there is a tendency to think you will never be happy again. These are difficult times, but know that there will be love, joy and reaching out to others also.

-Set aside some letting-go time. Allow time for you to experience the deep feelings of sadness and loss. Write down thoughts, cry and talk to your loved one as if you imagine he or she is in the room with you. When scheduling specific time for expressing grief it will be easier to control feelings in public.

-Reach out to someone else. Giving to others will generate love and empathy into others' lives that will help you go on with your life too.

-Draw on your belief system. Religious values strengthen and comfort you.

It is tempting to think of the holiday season as an awful time. It is a difficult time, but you can experience joy, sweet remembering and the comfort of loved ones and friends. Having a good time doesn't mean you have forgotten your loved one or that you love him less.

Hospice of IHC Bereavement Groups are held in six-week sessions four times a year. The next group will be held beginning Jan. 11 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the IHC Home Health's new offices at 1875 S. State St., Suite T500, Orem. For information, call 225-0584.