Grief and bereavement specialists at the Hospice of Metro Denver will offer their expertise to the public April 23 to help relieve the stress and uncertainty created by recent tragedies and global unrest.
Many Colorado families are in mourning after losing loved ones in the war in Iraq. The war has claimed the lives of at least three American soldiers with direct ties to Colorado.
"All of us respond to the death of someone we care about in our own unique way," said Bev Sloan, president and CEO of Hospice of Metro Denver. "There are theories and folklore that describe how people grieve and these ideas are sometimes helpful but they can also oversimplify the complex nature of our relationships with those we love and care about. We see for instance how disbelief in those waiting for relatives to show up gradually turns to sadness as the reality of the loss sinks in. What happens after that can vary from no grief to prolonged intense mourning."
"We all grieve at some point in life and most of us find a way to continue our lives without more help than what we receive from our community of family and friends," Sloan said. "For some, however, grief is so difficult that outside assistance is needed, especially if death is due to a traumatic event like the ones we have seen recently. There are a number of community resources that can help."
The tumultuous situation in Iraq and other events have prompted hospice officials to put together a special free public education offering on April 23. From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the hospice administrative offices, trained grief counselors and spiritual care providers will offer support and education for community members who are coping with stress. Helpful information on coping and self-care will be presented, and participants will have an opportunity to discuss and react to the events and the information presented. The session will be held in Denver’s Forum Building, 425 South Cherry St., Suite 700.
Hospice officials said there have been a number of national and local events not related to the Iraq conflict that could exacerbate feelings of uncertainty and grief. The space shuttle disaster and large, fatal nightclub fires in Chicago and Rhode Island are examples, as well as a tragic car accident that killed three teens in a Denver suburb.
"Ironically, the recent nightclub fire in Rhode Island occurred close to the location of the worst nightclub fire in U.S. history – the Coconut Grove fire in Boston in 1942 where 491 people lost their lives," Sloan said. "That fire made an enormous impact on the lives of so many people that it became the starting point for a new field of research – the scientific study of loss, grief, and mourning. Social scientist Eric Lindemann studied the reactions of grieving family members and gave us the first comprehensive picture of acute grief."
The Hospice of Metro Denver offers several grief and bereavement groups that are open to the public, free of charge and designed to provide a comforting and healing setting in which feelings of loss and confusion can be shared. For more information contact Hospice of Metro Denver at (303) 321-2828.