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Published June 09, 2013, 11:30 PM

Workshop helps people work through grief

FARGO – To Alan Wolfelt, the loss of a loved one is not something someone should “get over” or resolve.

By: Cali Owings, INFORUM

FARGO – To Alan Wolfelt, the loss of a loved one is not something someone should “get over” or resolve.

Instead, he teaches the bereaved to reconcile their losses and learn to integrate a loss into their lives.

“Our culture moves people away from grief, but you have to work through it,” Wolfelt said.

The author and grief counselor who runs the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Fort Collins, Colo., will visit Fargo on Tuesday and lead a workshop to help people understand grief and clear up misconceptions.

Wendy Tabor-Buth, a grief counselor for Hospice of the Red River Valley who organized the event, said the program will help participants understand how loss influences their lives.

The program is meant for those who are currently experiencing loss, caregivers and other professionals, and anyone looking for tools to help support someone in their life who has suffered a loss.

“My hope is that (participants) are able to know they are not alone in their grief,” Tabor-Buth said. “Those grief feelings are normal and common and there’s support out there.”

Wolfelt discussed with The Forum some common misconceptions about the grieving process.

Keeping to yourself

First, the grief counselor emphasized the difference between grief and mourning. Wolfelt said grief is an internal response, while mourning is a shared social experience. Many people grieve but do not properly mourn.

Preparing for a loss

When a loved one begins the process of dying, the grieving process also begins – it’s called “anticipatory grief.”

Though this can happen well in advance of a death, “you’re never really ready,” Wolfelt said.

Skipping the funeral

While many might think it’d be easier not to have a funeral after someone dies, Wolfelt said creating a meaningful funeral ceremony is one of the most essential things you can do to mourn a loved one.

Keeping it in the family

After the death of a relative, all of the grieving family members are in a state of high need with little capacity to understand each other.

“It’s a pressure-cooker experience,” Wolfelt said. The bereaved should reach out to other people for support who aren’t currently experiencing the loss.

If you go

What: “Understanding Your Grief: Touchstones for Hope and Healing” workshop

When: 7-9 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Ramada Plaza & Suites 1635 42nd St. S., Fargo

Info: Free to the public

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599