Bereavement Support Group helps grieving residents

| December 29, 2015
The Adult Bereavement Support Group participated in a coloring activity as a coping mechanism and hung some of their artwork up on the bulletin board in their meeting room.

The Adult Bereavement Support Group participated in a coloring activity as a coping mechanism and hung some of their artwork up on the bulletin board in their meeting room.

COSHOCTON – Everyone deals with the loss of a loved one differently. Some people grieve privately while others express their grief openly to others. The Adult Bereavement Support Group at Health Services and Hospice of Coshocton, a non-profit organization, located at 230 S. Fourth St. is open to any person who is experiencing the loss of a loved one.

The group, under the direction of Mary McCune, bereavement coordinator, has approximately four to 10 participants with two Hospice volunteers. One volunteer is a woman in her 30s who lost her husband and wanted to volunteer with the group to help others who are experiencing grief. The other is an older woman who knows what it’s like to experience loss.

“She is a great person to have in the group,” said McCune. “I may have had education, and I can educate them all I want, but unless you have had that hard reality of these losses, you don’t really understand. She loves to tell stories, and the people can really relate to her stories.”

McCune uses a book as a guide for her classes. The book, “Grief Work”, teaches participants how to work toward their healing. The book is broken down into several sections including how to get started by listening to each other’s stories without judgement and being respectful of other people’s losses, and how to get in touch with your emotions by telling your story. There is also a section on self-care and coping skills.

“I believe people can get through almost any situation with good coping skills,” said McCune. “If you have those good coping skills, you’re more likely to get through your grief without the intervention of professional help.”

Another section of the book deals with relationships and special days. For the advent season, McCune gave all participants an advent calendar with a special verse inside each day so that they could reflect and remember their loved one each day throughout the holiday season.

With the newest rage in stress relief being coloring books for adults, McCune wanted to see if the participants in the bereavement support group would be interested in trying that as a coping mechanism. However, instead of using coloring pages for adults, which can be too elaborate, McCune printed out children’s coloring pages, and participants in the group loved the idea. There is now a bulletin board in the Health Services and Hospice of Coshocton building that features colored pages done by participants.

“Artwork and coloring is an excellent coping activity,” said McCune. “It takes the focus of what’s bothering them away and puts it all on the activity. It’s a lost child-like activity that they loved. It might not seem grief-specific, but anything they can do to pass the time while they’re grieving is good.”

Some members of the group recently started meeting for lunch outside of the support group sessions.

“It’s a support group and I want them to build up their support system,” said McCune. “This helps to take those relationships outside the table and make it into more of a friendship. I don’t want people to come and just talk about their feelings and leave. I want them to develop a relationship.”

Normal meetings begin with coffee or water and talking together until everyone arrives. Then, they participate in an icebreaker activity and then do the main activity until it’s time to leave.

“We just sit around and talk,” said McCune. “I try to have activities to do because if you go in there without something, they might not have anything on their minds and they need something to springboard their thoughts.”

The group meets every other Friday at Health Services and Hospice of Coshocton from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The next meeting will be Friday, Jan. 8. Anyone, regardless of age, is welcome to attend and there is no cost to attend.

“I’ve had people tell me, they don’t think they need to come, but they want to come, even after so long, and I’m fine with that,” said McCune. “They also become support people for everyone else there.”

Those who wish to attend can call McCune at 740-622-7311 and talk with her first about their loss so that they may feel more comfortable at the first meeting. However, that is not a requirement and those who do not call are still welcome to attend. McCune is also working on having transportation available to those who may need it.

The group is canceled in the event of bad weather. Listen to WTNS radio to see if the group has canceled.

There used to be a children’s support group as well, but due to lack of participants, the group has disbanded. McCune would like to restart that program if at least two to four participants are willing to come and participate.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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