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Coping during the holidays

Church offers one-day session to help cope with loss

Sentinel photo by ERIN THOMPSON
Deb Mitchell and Donna Youtzy and, facilitators for GriefShare at Pine Glen Alliance Church, Lewistown, stand with copies of workbooks that are given out during the program to help people learn to cope with grief.

LEWISTOWN — The holidays are a time of spreading joy, but if you are coping with the loss of a loved one, it can instead be a lonely and emotional season.

Pine Glen Alliance Church is offering a one-day session called “Surviving the Holidays” that can help individuals get support and encouragement needed to get them through this difficult time.

The group will meet 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, at the church, located on state Route 103 N., Lewistown.

The session is informal and confidential and offers talking points like surviving special events, remembering and honoring loved ones during the holidays and how to give yourself freedom to handle grief in a way that works best for you, said Deb Mitchell, a facilitator of the program.

The sessions open with prayer and include a video seminar, which include information-packed videos featuring leading grief recovery experts, a small group discussion about the video content and a workbook with journaling and personal study exercises that reinforce the weekly session topics.

The church is offering “Surviving the Holidays” as a supplement to its regular 13-week GriefShare program because so many individuals struggle with loss around the holidays.

“Loss around the holidays intensifies your grief,” said Mitchell. “You see the empty chair and it brings back the memories of the person. Grief is always difficult, but the holidays bring up a whole lot more. People feel pressured to do what they always have done it is increasingly difficult,” said Mitchell”

Being among others who are experiencing the same things can help with healing.

“In GriefShare, hearing from other people going through the same thing validates what you’re going through and so you know that you’re not the only one that’s dealing with it,” said Mitchell, who said the group also discusses how you can help others dealing with grief.

Mitchell said GriefShare is nondenominational, but is faith-based.

“The resources we draw from come from a biblical perspective. We invite people of all faiths and people of no faith. We encourage everyone to come and we have found that lot of people have found a lot of healing from this program,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell, and co-facilitator Donna Youtzy say they hope that participants will learn “they’re not alone.”

“Donna and I both lost our husbands, so we can really identify with what everyone is going through. Even though our situations may not be the same, a lot of the emotions are the same. That’s why we’re so passionate about GriefShare. It has helped us both immensely,” Mitchell said.

GriefShare is an network of more than 12,000 churches worldwide equipped to offer grief support groups. The program is nondenominational and features biblical concepts for healing.

Pine Glen Alliance Church also offers GriefShare as a more intense 13-week session in the spring.

The program also addresses how to cope with traumatic deaths like suicide and facilitators are able to connect participants with a professional counselor if needed.

For more information on GriefShare, visit www.griefshare.org or Facebook.com/griefshare.

Those interested may also call Mitchell at (717) 437-1079, Youtzy at (717) 543-8968 or the church at (717) 899-7740.

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