Hope for the holidays

Event gives support to grieving families
Dec. 11, 2012 @ 05:00 AM


SANFORD — The holidays can serve as a difficult reminder for some families who have experienced the death of a loved one, and one local counseling center plans to help individuals cope with their grief. 

The Family Doc Counseling Center, located at 1415 Greenway Court, will host children and their families who have lost a loved one and provide support for those grieving during the holiday season, said counselor Katie Thomas. Families or individuals must RSVP by 11 a.m. today at (919) 895-6334 for the free, 6 p.m. Hope for the Holidays event. 

"We will sit around and talk and eat," Thomas said. "We'll have a brief presentation on grief and loss, normalizing any experiences they have, and talk about their grief experience."

The families will wrap an empty box, then cut a hole in the top, Thomas said. Family members will be able to write memories of their loved ones and then unwrap the box around Christmas to relive some of their favorite moments, she said. 

"Every person experiences grief differently," Thomas said. "Some can feel guilty about the holiday season, especially if it's the first Christmas since the person's death. Some may not want to talk about it, and others are more open."

During Thomas' clinical work in graduate school, she saw a similar event at an area hospice and wanted to bring the grief support event to Sanford. This is the third year Family Doc has held the event, and she said she's expecting roughly a dozen families or residents. 

Ashley Robinson, who's husband died in 2009, plans to bring her 9-year-old son, James, who has struggled since his father died. 

"He has good days and bad days," Thomas said. "And I think it will be good for him to talk about his dad and good to see other people around his age who are going through the same sort of grief."

Snacks will also be served at the event.