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Grief Expert Alan Wolfelt, PhD

We’re still shocked and saddened by the many people tragically killed and injured at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas – the deadliest-ever mass shooting in the U.S.

And we’re still devastated and recovering from the wave of natural disasters that took and uprooted many lives in Mexico, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

When the people we love and know die – no matter the time, place or cause – our worlds are turned upside down. We must mourn and grieve those we’ve lost. By confronting our loss and pain, we then can move forward to create a new life. But, it takes time.

Can’t Hurry Grief

“We live in a culture that wants to rush through grief, but grief by nature is slow. We must take our grief and allow it to be mourned,” presented renowned grief specialist Alan Wolfelt, PhD during his traumatic loss grief seminar last year at Empath Health.

Wolfelt, an author, educator, grief counselor and founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado, also touched on how deep and long the impact of a death can be.

“You not only mourn the physical death, you mourn your sense of self, meaning and safety. You don’t resolve grief, you are changed by it. You’re going to have grief bursts for the rest of your life,” he said.

Next week, Wolfelt returns to speak at two free seminars presented by Curlew Hills Memory Gardens and Empath Health – “Exploring Death, Grief, and Mourning” on October 19 at North Bay Community Church in Clearwater and “The Art of “Companioning” the Mourner: Caring Versus Curing” on October 20 at Empath Health St. Petersburg service center.

Signs of Grief

So, when and how might you grieve?

When grieving and mourning a death, you may experience a wide range of emotions and behaviors across time, explained Dawn Melvin, LCSW, one of our Suncoast Hospice social workers who provides bereavement support to families.

“There’s a whole scope of feelings that people have following a death. There may be sadness, guilt, anger, reconciliation, trouble sleeping, loss or change of appetite, no desire to cook, clean or be around lots of people, low energy, fatigue and confusion,” Melvin said.

She added that some people may not even realize that they’re grieving.

“Lots of times people don’t even acknowledge that they’re living with grief. There’s like a brain fog with trouble concentrating and other behaviors that are totally foreign to them. They say they’ve never been like this and don’t recognize that this is how their bodies and minds are responding to their losses.”

In cases of unexpected traumatic deaths, such as car accidents, homicides, suicides, accidental overdoses and heart attacks, grief may become more complicated and manifest in different ways.

Kathy Quance, MS, CCLS, our Empath Health community counseling senior child life specialist, shared, “You’re going to live with this pain and it’s going to get more manageable – it’s a process. It’s not unusual to not cry, especially with survivors who had a sudden or traumatic loss. Their brains are trying to get a grip on the situation and very often that doesn’t happen for several months.”

Join Us

“Exploring Death, Grief, and Mourning” will be at North Bay Community Church in Clearwater on October 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Learn about death, grief, mourning, self-care, support systems and more.

“The Art of “Companioning” the Mourner: Caring Versus Curing” will be at our Empath Health service center in St. Petersburg on October 20 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The focus will be on professionals who counsel and support those who are grieving. Explore loss, grief, mourning, companioning, cultural values of caring and curing and more. Two CEU (continuing education units) hours or certificates of completion will be available.

Check out more information on our calendar or call to register for the seminars by October 17 at (727) 789-2000.

Need Help?

Our Empath Health community counseling offers individual and family counseling, crisis intervention support and support groups for various types of losses. Our counselors specialize in sudden traumatic losses.

Call to schedule a counseling appointment at (727) 523-3451 or register for a support group.