Healing from loss

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Betty Schneider knows what it is like to lose a loved one. After each of her two husbands passed away from cancer, she decided to give back to the community for the support they gave her during those difficult times.

This is why she now runs the Bereavement Support Group for Hospice Georgian Triangle. Registration for this fall’s eight-week program is now open for anyone who is suffering from the death of someone they love.

After Schneider’s first husband died, she figured she was strong enough to get over it. But she says that the death of her second husband brought out feelings she didn’t know she had.

To cope with these new emotions, Schneider sought help with a local bereavement support group. The experience was so positive that it convinced her she could help other grieving people, too. Soon afterward, she received training from Hospice Georgian Triangle herself.

“Participating in a support group such as this helps family members sort out their mixed-up feelings about death,” explained Schneider. “It also helps them work their way through their own personal grief experience from a physical, spiritual and emotional perspective.”

Schneider knows that everybody grieves differently. So she uses a multi-disciplinary approach in her program.

“During the group, participants are encouraged to try different ways to grieve, such as crying and even laughing. I try to give them tools and techniques to help them work through their grief.”

This includes keeping journals, painting pictures, talking, singing and listening to music. “Hopefully, we can open some doors where they can see a future without their loved one,” she said.

This fall, Bill Crossland plans to participate in the group for a second time. After his wife passed away just over one year ago, he joined the support group led by Schneider.

“You can’t call anything like that enjoyable, but it was nice to be with people who had similar disasters going on,” he said. “I appreciated talking and hearing other people’s feelings, and knowing you’re not alone in your feelings. Nobody knows what it’s like unless they’ve been through it.”

Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for people who have endured the loss of someone they love. To help group members be proactive with their emotions, rather than reactive, Schneider organizes a “Blue Christmas” event in December. “It’s to help them get over the loss while everyone else in the world is happy,” she explained.

Hospice Georgian Triangle is a registered charity that provides trained volunteer and professional care and support for individuals living with a life-threatening illness, individual counseling and small group support for bereaved family members.

The bereavement support group will meet at Sunset Manor in Collingwood from Thursday, October 10, to Thursday, November 28, from 4 to 6 pm. To register, call Hospice Georgian Triangle at 705-444-2555.

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