Workshop to be held Sunday, January 13th from 4-6pm at Prairie Pines, 101 East Lowell Street in Eads.
In roughly 18 months, Pastor Lane Gooden of Eads has presided over fifteen funerals. That’s fifteen ceremonies laying to rest men and women who, in many cases, have been a part of this community for much of their lives. Fifteen families left to deal with the loss of a loved one and the grief that loss brings. Fifteen times the community has, likewise, grieved the passing of one of their own.
Lane Gooden is only one pastor in one town in the county. Other pastors, other families, friends and communities have experienced their own losses this year and other years, as well. Grief is a part of life that has a profound impact, yet it’s something that we, as people, are often reluctant to acknowledge or even discuss.
JoDell Rogers, Family Services Coordinator with Lamar Hospice, knows this as well or better than anyone. “At some point in life, we all have experience with grief,” she says, “and we have this idea about ‘getting over it’, as if it’s the flu or something and, after a few months, we should ‘be better’ or ‘back to normal’. What people actually experience is something entirely different.”
As Rogers describes it, grief is an intensely individual experience that varies from person to person and changes with each person we lose. “The death of a husband or a wife is not the same as the death of a parent,” she says. “And the death of a child isn’t like any other. The grief with each one is felt differently than another.”
It is also not a temporary experience.
“Grief never goes away,” Rogers says. “It comes up at different times; sometimes it’s expected, and sometimes it’ll seem to come out of nowhere. But there are things that can be done to help with the experience, things we can learn to do to make that grief a part of who you are.”
With that in mind, on Sunday, January 13th from 4:00 to 6:00pm, Prairie Pines will be hosting a workshop conducted by the staff with Lamar Hospice. The topic will be understanding grief. “The workshop is strictly informational,” Rogers explains. “We’ll be giving some insight into grief and talking about some commonalities. The purpose is to give some tools to people, not to pull out emotions they might be feeling.”
The workshop will have four speakers. Paul Floyd, the hospice chaplain, will speak on spiritual issues. Landi Wagner, a SE Colorado Mental Health worker who’s doing her internship for a Master’s in Hospice Social Work, will discuss the “nuts and bolts” of grief. Roni Vallejos, a Child Life Specialist, will be talking about children who are grieving and, for those children who are present, will speak with them separately from the group. JoDell Rogers, Family Services Coordinator, will be discussing what programs are available to people through Lamar Hospice.
This workshop also serves a precursor to a six-week grief group also conducted by Lamar Hospice and held at the same time and same location for the next six weeks from January 20th to February 24th. That group, open to the public at no charge, will be based on the workbook “Touchstones of Grief” by Dr. Wolfset, a leading authority in grief and grieving. The workbook will be provided.
“We aren’t therapists,” Rogers says, “and I want to make sure people understand that. But there are feelings that people have sometimes that they may want to handle better and being a part of a group going through a workbook like this can help.”
Although feelings vary from person to person, Rogers describes some commonalities. “When a loss is recent, the grief can feel really overwhelming,” she says. “Some people say ‘something is wrong with me’ because they’re crying months after a loss or think they’re going crazy because they have large gaps in memory. Both of those things are common and just a part of the process.” She goes on to explain other feelings that may be experienced even a number of years after the loss. “Sometimes, people will describe guilt feelings where they keep obsessing about some aspect of the loved one’s death or when a season comes around, we may see a change in ourselves that we don’t like.”
Rogers emphasizes the purpose of the workshop, like the purpose of the grief group, is to educate about grief, to help people understand what grief is and to provide some tools and coping strategies for those who may find themselves grieving—or others in their lives who are grieving—and are seeking ways to handle the grief differently.
“For those who come and go through the workbook,” she says, “I think they’ll discover tools that will not only help them accept grief as part of who they are but also tools to help them honor the person who they’re grieving and maybe even find new meaning to their loss.”
Anyone who is interested in attending either event can either just show up at Prairie Pines on Sunday at 4pm or call Lamar Hospice at 719-336-2100.