South Okanagan Loss Society offers group grief sessions, counselling and much more. (File photo)

South Okanagan Loss Society is there to help those struggling with the loss of a loved one

November 15th is National Bereavement Day

November 15th is National Bereavement Day. For those who have lost loved ones, every day is bereavement day- and even knowing that death and loss are part of life, most of us are brought to our knees when someone we love dies.

It’s true that grief is a normal part of life — everything that lives, dies. And we can experience many peripheral losses and believe, and our ability to move through those losses with very little impact on our personal lives, may cause us to believe that we ‘get’ grief… until we lose a member of our family — until someone we loved very much dies.

Alan Wolfelt, a renowned grief therapist out of Colorado, said in a talk given here in Penticton in 2014 that, ‘We live in a grief-illiterate culture.’ We give people dealing with a loss a few bereavement days off, and expect them back at work- culturally we give people about three months to grieve, and then we expect them to get back to ‘normal.’

Most of us are oblivious to the impact of a major loss, until someone who was part of the fabric of our lives, dies. And for many people, it is only then that they realize that some losses change everything. Some losses alter the landscape of our lives. Some losses are devastating. Some losses are traumatic. And grief is hard. It’s painful, it’s emotional, it’s lonely. And there’s not a lot of help — even our closest friends may fumble at attempts to offer support — because unless you’ve had a major loss, you don’t get it.

Many people question the value of grief counselling, or grief support groups — often, we think, grief is a normal response to loss — how will a support group or grief counselling help? It won’t bring anyone back. That’s true, but in a support group, we get to talk about the people we loved openly and freely, we get to talk about our loneliness, we tell stories about them, we cry, and we laugh and we learn from each other how to allow the grief, the sadness and the challenges. And when we don’t have to convince anyone of the depth of our pain, we find a way to live with it, and in time we discover that in a mysterious way, grief and joy can co-exist.

There really is no closure, we continue to love the people we love, even after they die. We don’t get over it, we learn to live with it.

South Okanagan Loss Society (SOLS) has been providing community support for those dealing with loss, grief and life transitions in Penticton since 2018. We started drop-in groups at the Shatford Centre, then we moved to the United Church, then COVID-hit- and we went to zoom- then once it was safe, we started Seniors Living With Loss at the Leir House Monday mornings at 10:30 a.m., and we have continued our zoom meetings and we have two in-person meetings a month at the Elks, the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month at 6:30 p.m.

We have been offering Life Transitions – a four-week intensive program for Widows and Widowers, and we have also been offering a six-week Life Transitions for Those Who Have Lost a Loved One to Overdose, Suicide or Violence at Pathways Addictions Resource Centre. As well, we are able to offer grief counselling to individuals who are overwhelmed by their loss.

We offer Peer Support which involves weekly check-ins to see how folks are holding up. We offer support materials available on our website at sols.penticton.com and we have a Facebook page. SOLS Penticton and our phone number is 250-488-1320.

SOLS will be in front of Penticton city council on Tuesday to talk about who they are and what they offer the community.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with the loss of a loved one, you are welcome to join us.

READ MORE: How COVID has affected our mental health

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

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