By Kathleen McKevitt
We talk about the things we share like death and taxes and of those two things one gets talked about a lot, and one is not.
Death, loss and grief are private and deeply individual. Our joys and our losses tend to bring us together, but unlike our joys, grief can lead us into solitude, sometimes with pain so severe that isolation becomes the way life is lived.
There are times, psychologists seem to agree, that isolation can become more damaging than healing. But whether at that level or a milder one, grief has no favorites. We all experience it, and when we do, one of the things that happens to most of us is that we find we could use some help, an ally, a place where we’re understood and heard; but, we don’t have any idea what or where that is.
Fortunately, in most towns and counties today there are agencies that support the community in providing grief support and Pahrump is no exception. Here, the Nathan Adelson Hospice center provides weekly individual and group support for those experiencing loss, and that support takes many forms.
In a retirement community such as Pahrump, and at a time in our human history when millions of people are at retirement age there is a rising number of family losses in most families. But grief doesn’t have to do with only those who are aging. Loss of a child for any reason, a soldier in war, a family in earth disaster, accident or other casualty or illness, or of a beloved pet, brings all levels of grief.
Julie Platson is the grief counselor/spiritual counselor at the Adelson center, and priest at the St. Martin of the Desert Episcopalian Church in Pahrump.
“You’re not alone…” says Platson. “Others are in the same boat but each of us responds differently to grief. Our services are free so that’s one less thing people need to be concerned about when they come here.”
Grief During the Holidays
“It’s more intense,” says one of the women attending the “Getting Through the Holidays” group session of grief experienced during the holidays.
While some of the people attending the two-hour session in early November are remembering their losses from between 1 and 3 years ago, for others, the circumstances are new and never experienced before. The value of those present with some history of working with grief is additionally helpful to those who are in new circumstances.
Platson leads the group each week. She gently guides newcomers into the process by telling them they can just listen. They don’t have to participate if they don’t want to. She tells people that all grief processes are particular to the griever. One is not ok, and others ok. All responses to grief are individual.
Platson says, “There’s no timeline, no checklist, and no version of how-to.”
What there seems to be, however, is a means of helping grievers to heal. Also provided is compassionate listening, a safe place to be heard, information that can work, a peer group that understands, and an opportunity to review memories — the sad ones, the funny ones and the cherished ones.
One woman spoke up to say, “We planted a tree in her honor, with a St. Jude statue and it made us all feel better.”
Another woman told the group, “People say funny things when they’re grieving — like thoughts don’t go together right. And, they forget stuff a lot. I discovered that if I didn’t get anxious and would just sleep on it, I’d remember things in detail.”
Some people were married 50-60-plus years; others lost a child. Some people feel hopeless; others are getting through it, but every day, they all seem to conclude, is a day of letting go, then holding on, then taking another step to release their loved one, then falling apart again – then, finally, letting go and getting through it.
Platson says, “We’re not solving anything here; we’re comforting.”
Adult Grief Support Groups
Right now and into the future, the Adelson Hospice team is offering Adult Grief Support Groups on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. or Wednesdays at 10 a.m.
The Men’s Grief Support Group meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. Survivors of Suicide Grief Support Group a new group meets Thursdays at 4 p.m.
On Dec. 3, people are invited to the Candlelight Memorial Service — “Light Up a Life” to honor and remember loved ones at 6 p.m. at the Desert Greens Clubhouse, 350 West Wilson Rd, Pahrump. More information is available by calling 751-6700.
Free one-on-one counseling sessions are also available at the Adelson Hospice center.
“It’s not heavy-duty counseling,” says Platson. “It’s just listening and helping people along.”
At the Getting Through the Holidays group everyone who wanted to speak got the opportunity. There was laughter; there were tears. There were sweet memories and a little anger. There were plans: “This year, I’m putting up lights — the kind that play music, and drive the neighbors nuts!”
In closure, there are tissues, candles lit in memory, soft words spoken, and some comfort that will last awhile. This group is on-going. For some, every day is a day of grief — holiday or not. Still hard. But this session seems to take the raw edges off for a time, short or long, which may be just enough for the healing to begin, and continue.
For more information contact: Rev. Julie Platson, Nathan Adelson Hospice, 1401 S. Highway 160, Suite B, Pahrump. Phone number 752-5642.