No other time of year puts such a focus on family as the holidays, and with that any family who has suffered a loss, recent or not, can find this season especially difficult.
An upstate funeral home is offering a series of free sessions on coping with grief during the holidays.
The gathering Thursday Dec 5 is open to the public and free (more details on that below).
Last month, the Woodward Funeral held its first session, this one specifically for a community hit hard by death this past year, Spartanburg District 7.
“Death really doesn’t touch just one person, it can really shake a community,” said District 7 Lead Social worker Colin Bauer.
He says that’s especially so in his community which has suffered a number of deaths over the past year.
It was last fall when Emma Taylor, a beloved crossing guard at Jesse Boyd Elementary was hit and killed.
Then in January, Spartanburg High Senior Nick Dixon died during surgery.
Days later, head athletic trainer Bryant Rose died after a brief hospital stay.
And three weeks later, senior Caleb Roach was accidentally shot.
“There’s a sense of maybe shame, was I supposed to be able to do something, or a feeling of guilt or a feeling of could I have prevented something, so personally his loss affected me because I don’t see him anymore,” said Colin.
Bauer was one of several D-7 staff and students who attended the free session on coping with grief, lead by the Woodward Funeral Home in Spartanburg in November.
Funeral Director Stinson Ferguson says free session is divided into two groups, adults and children, each lead by trained therapists.
“K-12, those are very formative years, and so we develop habits during those times in our lives that can prove to be healthy or unhealthy And So we recognize the need to be get in front of grief which is something we all will have to deal with at some point or another in our life,” said Ferguson.
“The therapist was truly incredible how she was able to intertwine a lot of these emotional language into the process of healing and of grief. I think a lot of the students came away from that session recognizing they can grieve any way they want and it’s OK, and healing takes a long time,” said Bauer.
There’s no rules at the session, some speak up about their grief, others simply listen. The only thing required, says Ferguson, is an open heart.
“We’ve gotten incredibly great feedback and its interesting to see some people come in very reserved and very seamingly shy aobut things and by the end of the session the group atmosphere really causes them to just bloom and unravel in a good way,” said Ferguson.
If you are interested in attending Thursday evening’s session it starts at 6pm at the Woodward Funeral Home in Spartanburg at 594 Howard Street. You can register via the funeral home’s Facebook page or via www.jwwfh.eventbrite.com. Again, it is free, and all are welcome.