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Nine-week grief recovery classes begin soon

Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care is teaming up with Sunnyside Community Hospital to provide a free nine-week class designed to help community members work through grief. The classes begin Monday, Feb. 14.

The grief does not have to be from losing someone to death, but can be any situation in which an individual is mourning. Persons grieving a divorce, loss of a job, shattered dream or any other loss can attend the class.

Bereavement Counselor Rev. Dr. Al Johnston will be moderating the class.

"I get the honor of walking with people in their grief," he said of his role.

Johnston said it is a myth that a person should be "able to get over it," when suffering a loss.

Grief, he said, is a real issue and everyone deals with it differently.

One man Johnston worked with found himself disoriented by the death of his wife. He had trouble shopping, eating and sleeping.

When the man did sleep, "he secretly hoped he would not wake up," said Johnston.

He said the experiences the man was having are normal.

"There is a colossal lie that grief is 'just something that you go through and in about a month your life will be back to normal'," said Johnston.

Grief, he said, must be processed in a healthy manner.

Johnston attended a class at Sundown M Ranch focused on grief, and there, he learned the consequences of not dealing with grief in a healthy manner.

"Most of the people the alcohol abuse counselors worked with had, as an igniter event for the addictive behaviors, a significant grief experience that they were attempting to mask or alleviate the pain of loss," he said.

The losses included health crisis, emotional upheavals, depression and accidents.

Johnston wants to help members of the Lower Valley community and is eager to share the process he learned with those who participate in the nine-week class offered by Lower Valley Hospice and Palliative Care and Sunnyside Community Hospital.

The class begins Valentine's Day, he said, because it is symbolic of dedicating time to mend broken hearts.

"Attending this class is making a statement to yourself that 'I will be whole again and be able to function and trust and love again'," Johnston said.

The free class will be held at Sunnyside Community Hospital and pre-registration is necessary. The class is limited to the first 12 participants, but additional classes will be offered if the need presents itself.

The classes will be held on Mondays.

To pre-register, call Johnston at 837-1676.

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