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(BPT) - The holidays are meant to be a joyous time. But for someone dealing with grief, celebrations can be extremely difficult. If you are grieving over a recent loss, or one that happened years ago, experts say there are things you can do to make facing the demands and the expectations of the holidays a little easier.
“There are no rules on how to deal with grief during the holidays,” says South University, West Palm Beach Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program Director, Dr. Denny Cecil-Van Den Heuvel. “You get to decide what is best for you.”
Cecil-Van Den Heuvel speaks from both personal and professional experience. In addition to her university duties, she is also in private practice where she helps patients deal with loss and life’s struggles. She also experienced a great loss of her own. Twenty-six years ago, her husband was killed in a plane crash, leaving her to raise their 5-year-old son alone. She was just 31.
“It’s not easy being a widow or having a family member die, because people watch you and make judgments about you and about how you are coping with loss,” says Dr. Cecil-Van Den Heuvel. “You’re not supposed to get over it. You don’t get over loss. You integrate the loss into your life so you become stronger and wiser. You understand the value of life more from your losses.”
Cecil-Van Den Heuvel has advice on how to handle your grief during the holidays.
Honor your loved one
Finding a way to honor your loved one during the holiday celebration can be especially important, and meaningful, if the loss is recent.
“Honor the one who is not there, and embrace what no one got to experience about that person but you. That may entail going to the gravesite, or to where the ashes are spread,” Cecil-Van Den Heuvel says. “You can even do a ritual of saying one thing about that person that they would have brought to the holiday if they had been there.”
It’s O.K. to be sad
Pretending to be happy and cheerful, especially after a recent loss, can be a tremendous strain.
“If you choose to be melancholy and sad, that’s O.K. - you need to mourn. A lot people walk a wide circle around it, but everyone deals with grief and loss differently,” Cecil-Van Den Heuvel says. “You don’t have to do the ‘chin up - everyone has to be happy’ routine.”
She also recommends journaling if you are thinking a lot about your loss as a way to explore and express your feelings.
It’s O.K. to be happy
Don’t be afraid to take part in fun holiday activities, and don’t feel guilty if you do find yourself having a good time during the celebrations.
“Enjoy the presence of those around you,” encourages Cecil-Van Den Heuvel.
Don’t set yourself up
Cecil-Van Den Heuvel believes it is easy for those who are grieving to set themselves up to have a bad holiday. “People anticipate what they’re going to feel and set themselves up to some degree to have a horrible time,” she explains. “Do not set the stage for what the day is going to be like. Just allow it to be what it is.”
She speaks of her own experience dealing with the loss of her husband.
“There were many times that I thought ‘This is going to be the hardest year’ because it was the fifth anniversary of his death, or some other milestone. And, many times it turned out not to the hardest year despite those milestones - but it could have been a hard year if I’d pushed it. Don’t choose to go in the black hole and stay there.”
Be authentic to yourself
Being authentic to yourself is the most important aspect of grieving during the holidays, or anytime.
“Allow yourself to feel the pain so you can integrate it into your life and learn and grow from it,” she says. “Nobody wants to suffer, but suffering has its purpose, and that purpose is growth. There is always going to be life and death, and we need to grow from grief rather than being victim to it.”
(BPT) - It’s that time of year again.
Small business owners are preparing for a lucrative holiday season – with nearly three quarters (71 percent) expecting consistent or better sales this year compared to last year, according to Capital One’s Q3 Spark Business Barometer.
At the same time, research shows many shoppers will be buying gifts online and using credit cards. In fact, more than a third of Americans plan to do their holiday shopping online, and more than half plan to use credit cards to make purchases.
With the growth of online shopping and credit card spending, how can local businesses, like yours, and entrepreneurs capitalize on these trends to maximize sales and boost bottom lines? Enhancing your e-commerce strategy and leveraging the latest mobile sales tools are great places to start.
Capital One Spark Business offers tips and tools to help small businesses grow and save, including:
* Embrace mobile technology to maximize sales and save cash. New point-of-sale technologies make it easy and affordable to accept credit card payments and market your business more effectively. For example, Spark Pay offers a simple pricing plan with no contract necessary and enables businesses to send customized holiday offers and promotions to shoppers for free.
* Simplify your online shopping cart process and optimize your landing pages. Did you know that 68.06 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned? Give the customer plenty of choices by offering as many payment methods as possible. For smaller businesses competing with online giants, cart simplification technologies can be critical. You’ll also want to make sure your landing pages are fully optimized to meet all your customers’ needs. The last thing you want to do is increase your bounce rate and waste your marketing efforts.
* Make shipping and returns as painless for customers as possible. It’s important to customers: 70 percent of U.S. e-commerce shipments during the 2014 holiday shopping period could include free shipping – a 3 percent increase over 2013.
* Invest in new marketing methods and focus on your online capabilities. Small business owners are already expressing a desire to do this. According to the Capital One Spark Business Barometer, 18 percent indicated that, besides attracting and retaining new customers, their most popular business goals are improving advertising and marketing tactics and streamlining expenses. E-commerce solutions can help them achieve both goals.
* When it comes to business expenses, use credit card programs that offer reporting and cash management tools, plus rewards to help increase margins. Capital One Spark Business Cards make earning and redeeming rewards easy, with no: rewards expiration; travel blackout dates; limit on the amount of cash you can earn; redemption tiers; and the list goes on.
(BPT) - Every year, employees with company-sponsored health plans are asked by their employers to select benefits for the following year. This process is called “open enrollment,” and it is an important event that is happening across the nation. While many view this as a chance to merely review and update health care coverage, such as medical, dental and vision, it is actually about much more than that.
According to the 2014 Workplace Benefits Study conducted by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), 74 percent of middle-income employees derive the majority of their financial security from the benefits they receive at work. Guardian suggests that families review their voluntary benefit options, such as life or disability insurance, in order to fill any gaps in coverage that could cause financial trouble in the wake of a crisis or medical event.
Here are some important benefits that are often overlooked when making elections during the open enrollment period, along with a brief explanation of how they can help you protect your income and preserve your savings:
Disability insurance - Your most important asset is your ability to earn an income. If you and your family rely on your income, disability insurance can help provide you with a stream of income if you are unable to work due to an illness - such as cancer - as well as accidents.
Life insurance - Life insurance is a great foundation of a smart financial plan. It’s about protecting your family and the life you work hard to give them. Having the right amount of life insurance can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of if the unexpected was to happen. It can help them stay in the same home, pay off debt, or pay for college and anything else they may need if you are not there to support them financially.
Critical illness – Critical Illness insurance lets you focus on recovery, not finances. A serious illness such as stroke or heart attack could strike at any time, with no warning. You can use your benefit to pay for daily expenses and outstanding bills. Protect your savings; payments go directly to you - not the hospital.
Accident Insurance - No one sees an accident coming - but if you are in one, it can be devastating for your finances. An accident can bring unexpected expenses such as deductibles, emergency room fees and transportation costs. Accident insurance can ease the burden by helping you pay these additional bills.
Cancer Insurance – If you get a diagnosis of cancer, the last thing you need to think about is paying for treatment. Cancer brings many out-of-pocket expenses that your insurance may not cover and can cost you and your family thousands of dollars. Cancer insurance can help you pay for unexpected costs such as travel to treatment centers, loss of income, deductibles, co-pays and more.
It’s important to be aware of all the benefits offered to you at your workplace. Review all available options to make certain you are fully covered for your current situation – and for life’s unknown events. Check out Guardian’s two-minute videos that reinforce that good financial health and security begins with the benefits offered at the workplace at www.guardiananytime.com.
(BPT) - Toys and games are sure to be on kids’ gift lists this holiday season. Many parents will hope to mix in something practical with all the fun, aiming to give a gift that can help children of any age do their best in school. With technology in common use in classrooms across the country, many parents will shop for laptops, notebooks or other devices that can help facilitate learning.
Fifty-eight percent of students use a laptop, notebook or Chromebook for school at least twice a week, according to the 2014 Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey. In fact, 71 percent of elementary school students, 67 percent of middle school students and 56 percent of high school students would like to use mobile devices more often in the classroom than they do now.
With the wide range of learning tasks students tackle daily, it’s important for parents to choose devices with maximum flexibility. Windows is the most commonly used operating system in the workplace and a vast library of educational materials are Windows compatible, so it makes sense for children to learn on Windows 8-enabled devices with Intel inside. Three types of devices stand out for parents looking for computing flexibility:
Smaller, lighter and more economical than full-sized laptops, today’s notebooks still pack a great deal of computing power in their compact frames. Products like the HP 210 G1 Notebook PC allow students to perform basic word-processing tasks, access online learning tools, and share notes and assignments with peers and teachers. Durable yet lightweight, their typical small size allows them to fit easily into backpacks and be used in classroom settings without taking up too much space.
With their versatile touchscreen interface, tablets inspire creativity and facilitate collaboration among students and educators. Teachers who use tablets in class are able to personalize lessons to appeal to the learning styles and interests of multiple students, rather than approaching a lesson as one size fits all. For younger students who have not yet mastered a keyboard, touchscreen tablets provide an easy way to accomplish tasks. Styles like the Dell Venue 11 can also feature handwriting recognition, making note-taking fast and easy for older students and helping younger pupils practice handwriting skills.
2 in 1s
For older students who do more typing, 2 in 1 devices like the Lenovo Yoga or Asus Transformer provide the convenience of a notebook and the flexibility of a tablet. These devices are lightweight with a touchscreen interface, like a tablet, but can be also used like a traditional laptop through a detachable, flippable or rotating keyboard. Having both functionalities within one device facilitates creativity, note-taking and collaboration.
Not sure which of these device types might best suit your student’s needs? Consult with your child’s teacher. In many classrooms across the country, teachers are already using technology in their lessons. Your child’s teacher may be able to advise you on what type of device would best mesh with what he or she is already using in the classroom. To learn more about how educators are using technology to enhance student success or about the best device for your student, visit www.k12blueprint.com or follow @IntelK12Edu on Twitter.