For the past four years, “Serenity Seekers,” a grief support group, has been offered by Neidecker, LeVeck and Crosser Funeral Homes, Crosser Funeral Homes and Stein Hospice. This year is no different.
“Grief is not a mental illness; it’s a natural normal reaction to a loss,” said Samantha Bechtel, Bereavement Program director at Stein Hospice. “Most of the services that are available out there are more mental health, mental illness focused. What we do in the grief groups is provide education and support. Our goal is to help people understand the grieving process and how to cope with that process and support them through that.”
The six-week support group is intended to help anyone 18 years or older deal with the recent death of an adult. The support group is free and is held in both the Port Clinton and Oak Harbor areas.
“The death of a loved one is unfamiliar territory,” said Michelle Waldron of Neidecker, LeVeck and Crosser Funeral Homes, Crosser Funeral Homes. “What’s nice about it is they get together and they have a common bond. They have an open space where they can talk freely about their loss and no one’s judging them.”
The Port Clinton group will meet every Wednesday in Conference Center Room B at Magruder Hospital. Meetings are held from 5:30-7 p.m. and will begin Aug. 5.
The Oak Harbor group will also meet Wednesdays beginning Sept. 15 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Riverview Health Care Campus.
According to Bechtel, participants in Serenity Seekers watch the video, When Morning Dawns, to help break down and relate the grieving process to the seasons. An art therapist also attends the group three times for expressive therapy.
According to Bechtel this process is very helpful for people that don’t like to talk about what they’re going through. Some people are better at using drawing or writing to express their feelings.
At the end of the six weeks, participants are asked to write a note to their loved one and attach it to a balloon, which will be released.
“It’s a symbol of letting go of a piece of your grief, not letting go of your loved one because that’s not realistic. They’re always going to miss their loved one; they’re always going to love them; they’re always going to feel like there’s a missing piece,” said Bechtel.
“Even though their loved one is not physically on the earth anymore they can still have a connection with him or her; they can still have a relationship – it’s just a different one,” said Bechtel. “So we try to educate them on different ideas, different things they can do to stay connected.”
For more information or to register for Serenity Seekers, contact Michelle Waldron at 419-732-0909 or 419-898-4455.
After completing the six-week support group, some individuals may wish to attend a monthly support group called “Healing Hearts.”
Other support groups offered through Stein Hospice include “Compassionate Friends,” a monthly group for adults that have experienced the loss of a child; “A New Dawn,” a six-week group for adults dealing with divorce; “With the Guys,” a six week group for men who have lost a loved one and Rain’s End, a six week group for adults who have lost a loved one through suicide.
Social groups are also offered. “Bunch for Lunch” is a potluck that meets at noon the first Monday of every month; “Huggers and Munchers” meets at a different restaurant on the first Tuesday of every month at 5 p.m.; “Sandusky Yacht Club Lunch Bunch,” meets the third Wednesday of every month at noon; and “Healing Hearts Lunch Buffet” meets the first Wednesday of every month at Berry’s Restaurant in Norwalk.
Children’s and adolescent support groups include “Recovery Riders,” a five-week group for children ages 7-12 who are dealing with the death of a loved one; R.U.O.K, a five-week group for 13-18-year-olds who have lost a loved one; and “Club USA,” an 11-week group for 7-12-year-olds who have a loved one deployed in the military.
“Tough Cookies,” a six-week group for children 7-12 and “Next Step,” a six-week group for 13-18-year-olds, both deal with separation, divorce and temporary or permanent placement outside of their home due to incarcerated parents and guardians.
“We’re looking at all types of loss in life, not just through death and I think that sometimes that is a misconception,” said Bechtel. “It comes from a hospice agency and a lot of people think we’re just about death but really we’re about grief, trauma and loss.”
To register for support groups or make reservations for the social groups, call Hope Moore at 419-625-5269.