Wish you were here: China Grove workshop deals with grief around the holidays

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The holidays are fast approaching and for those who have lost a loved one, these days will look different and be more of a challenge to face.

To help those dealing with grief, Carolina Caring, which provides hospice and palliative care, offers multiple grief workshops with one specifically geared toward the holidays, entitled “Grief Share: Surviving the Holidays,” which is appropriate for anyone over 17 years old.

Annette Walker, director of grief support at Carolina Caring, shared that the video-based workshops are interspersed with a time for information provided by the facilitator and an opportunity for questions and discussion.

The series, she continued, touches on planning ahead, accepting your limitations, taking care of yourself, evaluating your traditions and thinking of ways to memorialize or honor your loved ones during the holiday season.

“I tell people the holiday season is going to come whether you want it or not,” Walker shared as she noted that some would rather skip the season during that first year of loss.

But, she continued, “realistically there’s no way to do that” as she pointed out all of the commercials, seeing the stores decorations, hearing the Christmas music and receiving all of those advertisements.

Therefore, the workshop can help by offering “practical tips on what to expect, ways to cope during the holiday time, how to still do the holidays and ways to take the stress and pressure off oneself while grieving,” Walker said.

While the workshops are different from support groups in that they are more educational in nature, Walker noted that some people do share during them but only if they are comfortable to do so. They never want them to feel pressured to share, she said.

Winford Tucker, who just recently experienced the loss of his wife Adelia, can attest to the workshops being a help as he noted he has attended any that he can.

“They have been a big help to me,” he shared, and he would encourage others to attend them as well.

“I would suggest anyone who has lost a spouse and if hospice is having a workshop, I highly recommend them to attend. It will really help them,” Tucker noted.

Walker, along with three other Carolina Caring bereavement counselors, Justin Hendren, Madeline Smith and Andrea Haas, lead the workshops.

Tucker noted that he attended a recent holiday workshop and “it was good to be with a group.”

During the event, questions were asked and people had things to contribute and a video was shown to help with different experiences you may have, he added.

Tucker said he and his wife would have been married 58 years on Nov. 7, and this will be the first year without her for the holidays in all these years.

While this year will look different, he shared that he is “not going to give up everything we did at Christmas.” He said on a day-to-day basis, he will be doing things that will remind him she isn’t here, but he will still do things “to keep her here.”

The first year grappling with loss is always assumed to be the worst, Walker mentioned, but sometimes the second and third years can likewise be challenging and sometimes that second year is harder.

Since grief is different and there are different stages, people can learn something new from the workshops and attend more than one over the years.

The workshops, which are held in different locations, are open to the community. Upcoming workshops include: Nov. 16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with registration accepted until Nov. 13 and will be held at the Carolina Caring Newton location, 3975 Robinson Road; in Huntersville at 9735 Kincey Avenue, Ste. 202; and China Grove, 301 E. Centerview Street.

Additional workshops will be Nov. 29 from 1-2:30 p.m. at the Newton location with a registration deadline of Nov. 22; and a virtual workshop Nov. 29 from 6-7:30 p.m. with registration also by Nov. 22. This workshop will be offered through Zoom. Instructions to participate will be provided.

A children’s workshop entitled Grief and Glitter, for ages 6-16, will be Dec. 9 from 9:30 -11 a.m. at the Newton location with registration required by Dec. 1.

Register for the workshops on their website, carolinacaring.org and then go under ‘Support,’ or by calling 828-466-0466 ext. 3201.

Walker noted that the children’s event will be led by bereavement staff Smith and Haas and differs in that it does not use video and uses “more expressive modes with art and music along with some sharing and discussion.”

Tucker said that whenever he has the opportunity, he will tell others about hospice. 

“I sing hospice’s praises,” he said. “I can’t say enough about how good hospice has been and what a wonderful organization they are.”