The 501-C-3 Files
by adam and sophia Bogle
WinterSpring (Resources for Coping with Grief)
We have all known people who are grieving. And we have all known the awkwardness of trying to come up with something meaningful to say or do. These days, through Facebook mostly, it seems we get to be “in-the-know” more often than we did in the past. How many Facebook posts do we see now from a friend to learn that their mother, sister or even their dog has died? In the past our only option other than to post a comment was to “like” it. At least now there is a sad face. I would venture to say that many of us are not well versed with death and the grieving that comes with it. But it is inevitable, and coping with the loss of loved ones is really part of living. What we need are a few tools to learn to work through this process that comes about many times in our lives. That’s where WinterSpring can help.
WinterSpring offers phone support, assessment, group grief support to people of all ages with individual peer support, resources, referrals and education. Whether it is loss of a parent, a child, or a beloved pet, there is help for you, or a good resource to send to help others you know may be hurting. Here are just a few examples of how WinterSpring is making a difference.
“Jessica’s” story: Jessica’s mother died in a car accident when she was just 7 years old. Even after considerable time had passed, she was showing signs that things just weren’t right. She wasn’t interested in the activities she once loved, and had regressed into herself, seldom talking. Fortunately, her school got her connected with a WinterSpring children’s program that meets once a week to support children who are experiencing grief. She was in a group of about 7 kids who were all experiencing their own losses. Jessica connected with one of the counsellors there, Christine (who has an English accent). They played dress up together with Christine becoming the Queen. And when the Queen said that she too had lost a close friend in a car accident, Jessica’s face lit up. She started to realize that she was not alone and that she could share (and process) her sadness. And she was able to start to break out of that shell of depression.
“Randal’s” Story: After the loss of his mother several years earlier, Randal had been acting out in middle school. He would get really angry, and frequently was violent. Then one year, just after mother’s day, his behavior really took a turn for the worse. He had been told to “be tough” after the loss. Again, thank goodness for teachers. One of his teachers who knew that his mother had died, got him into one of the WinterSpring on-site school-based grief groups. As the other teens shared their stories, Randal’s behaviors started to improve. One of the rituals they did was to paint the name of the loved one on a little rock, and they planted a tree and pansy garden, and the kids would place their memorial rock in it. Even though Randal didn’t share much with the group, the teacher noticed that he would frequently go to the memorial rock garden and weed and caretake it. Meanwhile his outbursts got to be fewer and fewer.
One thing I am finding to be surprisingly useful is their website: www.winterspring.org. There are many resources there about dealing with loss. In fact just today I sent along the packet about “Loss of a Family Pet” to a friend who’s dog of 14 years passed away. (Yes, I learned about it through Facebook.) It was so much better than the flimsy “I’m sorry” that sometimes is all I know how to say.
Do you have what it takes to help others with their grieving? If you think you do, WinterSpring offers Bereavement Skills Training. The next workshop is March 4th, and is a training for professionals who encounter people in grief and for people who would like to be volunteers for WinterSpring.
I believe the biggest thing though one can do to help WinterSpring (other than donating money) is to just be aware of the program, to use its website, and to tell others who may be in need of their services. Let’s not hide behind thinking that everyone will just get over it.
Call them at 541-552-0620 or go to their website to find out how to help, or how to get help.