‘Surviving the Holidays’ and my own journey of grief

By Sharon Gagnon
Shortly after my husband died, a lady in my parish tried to console me. She felt so sorry for my five kids to have lost their dad, because when she was 16 she had lost her own mother, a lady who had died nearly 20 years earlier. Even with the passing of time, this kindly lady seeking to console me broke down crying.
In an odd (but welcome) twist, I ended up consoling her. Even after all those years had passed, she still carried the sadness, anger, guilt, and pain from the loss of her mother. No one had ever taken the time to help her grieve her mother’s death.
This is one reason why I am facilitating a special program next week at the Spiritual Life Center called “Surviving the Holidays.” After confronting my own pain and going through special training from the National Catholic Ministry for the Bereaved, I learned that old phrase, “time heals all wounds,” just isn’t true. Many people go around their pain using things like alcohol, food or the busyness of activity to numb the pain. Holidays are the worst. But in order to heal the pain, one must go through it instead of around it.
“Surviving the Holidays” is an essential two-hour program for anyone who has lost a loved one to death, but still needs to “go through” that pain. We will watch a video with people just like us as they describe their feelings, and then hear from professional counselors who can offer help. We’ll talk.
Although I’ve led several parish-level support groups over the years, I don’t pretend to be an expert. But together, we can move forward and through our grief. The best way through is to sit and talk to someone who has gone through the same suffering and cry so that someday you will be able to talk about your loved one and not choke up or cry. Men especially are most in need of this help because our culture teaches them that they need to be tough guys and not cry.
It doesn’t matter how long ago your loved one has died, if you have gone around the pain instead of through it, it is never too late to help yourself-and others.
If any of this sounds familiar, I hope you’ll join us. Please come. We’ll talk. We’ll cry. And afterwards, I’m pretty sure, you will begin to feel better, live again and start to experience happiness.

Need life jacket?
“Surviving the Holidays” is being held at the Spiritual Life Center this Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 9-11 a.m. The $10 cost includes a special workbook.
Registration can be made by calling the Center at (316) 744-0167, or online at www.SLCWichita.org, click on Calendar of Events.