Listen to Julie’s radio show on the value of grief support

Julie  Susanne KSKQ Feb2014Listen to Julie’s radio show and the value of grief support as she and Susanne Severeid speak with Toni Lovaglia about the value of the group experience in processing loss.

Courageous Grief Talk 03/12/2014

Courageous Grief Talk – KSKQ 89.5 community radio Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m.

Grieving a difficult relationship

IrisGrieving difficult relationshipsby Julie Lockhart, Executive Director, © WinterSpring

The writings about grief and loss so often speak to missing the person who is gone, and perhaps longing for their physical presence again—especially during birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.  Yet, more often than we might guess, a relationship may have been difficult.  For example, a parent might have been overly critical, and perhaps behaved badly at Thanksgiving dinners.  Difficult relationships bring complex and conflicting emotions to the surface, including shame for not feeling “what you are supposed to feel” about the person who died.  And especially as we go through special occasions, these difficult emotions may get in the way of simple pleasures.  Sometimes our grief isn’t as much about the death as it is about a relationship that will never be how we would have wanted it—a connection that never was loving and now that person is no longer here for us to find some reconciliation.

Writer Andrea Heeres shares that expressing the truth about difficult feelings in a safe setting can help the healing process.  “A journal is a safe place…you might write a letter to the person who has hurt you…” (Grieving the Difficult Relationship, Bereavement Magazine, January/February 2004).  She also suggests exercise, healthy eating and getting rest, because moving through the long-standing pain takes strength.

Participation in a WinterSpring support group can help individuals process such difficult emotions in a safe environment.  “I experienced such relief when my father died, because he was always so mean to my mother and me,” said a recent group participant, almost in a whisper because of her shame for feeling that way about her dad.  Her brave comment opened the way for others in the group to share similar difficult emotions.  The facilitators reported afterward that because of this honest sharing, the energy of each of these participants seemed brighter at the end of that group session.  Many of the participants expressed relief that they could share such heavy emotions.

If you have experienced difficult emotions around the death of a loved one, seek a safe place to share your truth.  And if you are supporting a bereaved person, be aware that the emotions they express may be unexpected, even shocking, as they grapple with the complexity of their grief.  Most important is kindness and compassion for yourself and others who have endured these difficult relationships with those we love.

The Value of Group Support

The Value of Group Support — From our Director

Ashland CreekMagic happens when a group of grieving people come together to share their stories.  Lots of research supports this, and years of WinterSpring experience also confirms the value of group work.  I got to appreciate this first-hand as a co-facilitator of a group on Aging and Loss.  After the scheduled eight weeks ended, we did what many groups do and gathered to reconnect over a meal.  As we came together over a potluck of yummy fall vegetable dishes, pasta, deviled eggs, and salads, I looked around at these dear faces and reflected on the changes over the two months since we’d first met.  What I noticed most is that the “heaviness” had lifted, for some more than others, but each in their own way glowed.  Glow is the best word I can find for what I saw, and I believe it’s from the telling of our stories and being heard and finding camaraderie in shared experiences.  Here are a couple of comments:

  • Thanks for the companionship as we build back to a new normal, if one can really use the word “normal” for what is left to us.  
  • We all have our own path to follow, but I feel much stronger with the bonds we have created.

I’m constantly amazed by the resiliency of the human spirit, and honored that these deeply hurting folks came every week and bared their souls with each other…and often left with a smile on their faces. I just started co-facilitating a new group today, and left feeling that same sense of awe at the resiliency the group members showed today. I am so blessed to be doing such important work.

Thank you to our community of volunteers and financial supporters!  We can continue this meaningful work of helping people learn to embrace life again after loss because of you.

Our Children’s Program on the Front Page of the Mail Tribune

Photo courtesy of Jamie Lusch of the Mail Tribune.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Lusch of the Mail Tribune.

WinterSpring’s Children’s Program at Bellview School has been a wonderful experience for these kids.  Thanks to Sherry Nurre, our trained volunteer, for spearheading an additional program in Ashland.  We also have our ongoing program in Medford.  Call our office for more information about the programs coming up during the next school year: 541-552-0620.

Here’s a link to the article.