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Monday November 23, 2015

The holiday season has a reputation as one of the most joyful times of the year—but for those who have lost a loved one, it is just the opposite. Since grief is known to intensify around the holidays, Tammy McDonald wrote Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas. As a traveling Certified Life Coach, McDonald speaks at women's retreats, teas, banquets, Bible studies, and luncheons. Based in Houston, she launched Shifted Vision Ministries to encourage women to, as her website says, "seek God in their dark places."

In this interview with Mountain Valley Hospice, McDonald shares why she wrote Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas and the importance of rebuilding one’s life after loss.

Official Synopsis: Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas is not just another self-help grief book—it is a breakthrough interactive healing experience. Tammy McDonald doesn't fill your head with empty promises. This book makes you participate in your healing. It's a realistic approach of what to expect and how to plan ahead to make the holidays bearable.

Mountain Valley Hospice: You are a Certified Advanced Life Coach with specialty training in the area of grief and loss. What led you to specialize in this field?

Tammy McDonald: I have always had a heart to help hurting people. After losing several loved ones, I found therapists and counselors to help me deal with emotions associated with loss, but struggled to find support that dealt with the "rebuilding of life" after loss. I believe that, with proper support, a person can experience a life full of hope after loss. I decided I wanted to be that support, so I pursued training and certification in that field.

MVH: What led to the creation and mission of Shifted Visions?

TD: I intentionally look for God's presence during difficult circumstances. Over the years, friends and family members have called me and said, "Okay, Ms. Shifted Vision, help me see this in a different way."

I had no idea God would use that to establish a ministry. My 19-year-old cousin, Chris, died in a car accident in 2005. He had just added a light up stick shift to his car as well as undercarriage lighting. Even though our hearts were pummeled by his death, I could see God in the details. I knew I would eventually write a book about our experience and God's blessings in the midst of tragedy. The title of that book, Shifted Vision: Finding New Life in the Midst of Devastation, was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek title because of the light-up stick shift he had just put on his car.

That in turn birthed Shifted Vision Ministries. It is a place where hope is found.

MVH: Was there a particular experience that inspired you to write Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas?

TD: In working with grieving people, it is obvious that the holidays intensify the reality of loss.

Watching my Aunt Connie's struggle with grief over the loss of her son intensify as the holidays drew near was heart-wrenching. I noticed when she had a plan for certain parts of the holidays, she did better than the times when she attempted to "push through."

I decided to create Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas to help break the holidays into manageable baby steps.

MVH: The book's synopsis calls it "a breakthrough interactive healing experience." Could you explain what that means?

TD: This quote came from a reader, not me. Ms. Brown lost her 12-year-old son several years ago on December 30. The holidays have been very difficult for her since.

She contacted me after reading Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas and said, "I have read tons of self-help books about grieving, and that is all they were...books. I love the interactive aspect of this book with the workbook and journaling aspect that makes me participate in my own healing."

MVH: What are the most important and/or comforting words you would offer someone who is grieving during the holidays?

TD: You are not crazy... You are not alone... There is hope!

It is possible to honor the person you lost, without neglecting or rejecting the good things you still have in your life.

Find help and support to walk this path. You are not alone!

Conquering the Grief That Stole Christmas is now available to purchase at Amazon.com. For more information, visit Shifted Vision Ministries' official website.

―Josh Armstrong, Publications Specialist (Mount Airy, NC)

Tags: Grief Support