Grief Workshops Help Mourners Heal During the Holidays

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Those who have lost loved ones may feel their grief intensify during the holiday season, a time when holiday cards, party invitations, and gift shopping trips can cause feelings of isolation, pain, and sadness.

To help cope with the heartache, continue the healing process, and learn to enjoy the holidays again, many bereaved individuals turn to online grief workshops, such as the ones offered at Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum in partnership with COPE.

“Grief workshops function on two levels,” said Adam Rabinovitch, executive director of COPE. “First, they connect individuals who have a shared experience of loss and second, they provide valuable tools and therapeutic programs for the bereaved to heal and learn how to live their lives.”

How Grief Workshops Help Heal

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Lisa Strahs-Lorenc, a bereavement specialist, recently lead the holiday-focused grief workshop for Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum and its partnership with COPE.Courtesy Pinelawn Memorial Park

Lisa Strahs-Lorenc, a bereavement specialist who recently led a holiday-focused grief workshop, says a combination of honoring the deceased and moving forward is key to finding enjoyment on holidays. The workshop helped participants think of new family traditions that would honor their loved ones.

“My goal is to help people change their outlook about the holidays by tapping into their memories to create a new holiday with a new and special meaning,” Strahs-Lorenc said. “Hands-on, therapeutic exercises to help mourners create new memories from their old ones is a very effective and impactful way to help individuals heal.

“The exercise works by thinking about all of your favorite childhood memories, as well as the memories you made as an adult, with your lost loved one,” she continued. “We then combine these memories and these activities into a new holiday, where all of the special moments from the past are incorporated into upcoming celebrations.” 

The experts at COPE also explained that attending a grief workshop could be beneficial in teaching important skills and techniques for managing this strong emotion brought on by a devastating time in life.

“Grief is a part of life, but unlike other milestones, dealing with the death of a loved one is not learned or taught, but something mourners for years were left to cope with on their own,” said Lillian Julien, founder and president emerita of COPE. “Thankfully today, individuals who have experienced loss can heal and learn to cope and live, through the help of workshops led by experienced professionals.”

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Pinelawn Memorial Park also hosts other events to help families honor loved ones, such as its recent lantern lighting ceremony.Courtesy Pinelawn Memorial Park

Pinelawn introduced its Grief Workshop Series during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now in its second year, Pinelawn has partnered with COPE to host 22 workshops that have reached 1,275 individuals experiencing the loss of a loved one.

Pinelawn is fortunate to be partnering with COPE to help generate awareness for grief healing services and share tools to help grieving individuals along their grief journey,” said Justin Locke, president of Pinelawn Memorial Park and Arboretum. “We are proud to make these essential grief workshops available for free to the bereaved.”

The virtual sessions cover several topics, including Self Healing & Resilience Building, Journaling for Life After Loss, Allowing Nature to Hold Us, Healing Through Music, and more.

To learn more about the Grief Workshop Series, visit pinelawn.com/events.