First of all I would like to thank everyone for their support. Having just entered the third month of my private practice, I’ve been introduced to nine clients who are meeting with me regularly. I’ve also been participating in a couple of holiday bazaars selling handmade beaded jewelry while introducing the counseling business. Networking has been really enjoyable.
This last month I was offered a position as a monthly facilitator for a support group for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. They support individuals and family members who are coping with a variety of over 40 neuromuscular illnesses. I’m excited to start this endeavor this month.
I hope you’ve found my last few newsletters helpful, and I welcome any feedback and topic suggestions you might have. Have a wonderful and safe holiday season.
Photo Credit: Puiu Adriana Mirabela
Support groups can come in varying forms and provide individuals with a group atmosphere to address addictions, mental illness, physical illness, social skills, grief, and more. They are often run by a facilitator who may be a licensed professional or a peer who has had training and experience with a certain issue. Research has found that support groups often foster strong emotional bonds that encourage a high level of sharing of emotionally-charged experiences. These social ties have been found to be important for health maintenance, helpful in providing informational support and access to health-promoting resources in the community. Social support has also been seen to buffer against stress and facilitate better self-care. A support group also provides a sense of belonging.
While doing research on group work I learned that the group approach can be more effective than the individual approach, because group members gain insight, practice new skills, and benefit from feedback and insights from other group members. The group provides a re-creation of the participants’ everyday world, particularly when the group is diverse in age, interest, background, and socio economic status. As a teen I attended a support group with my family, and while I don’t remember all the content that was addressed, I do remember I felt supported, encouraged, and less isolated. If you have any interest in attending a support group or need help finding one to match your needs I welcome you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to find something that will work for you.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Schouten de Jel
While the holidays are a time of celebration and excitement, they can also bring about feelings of sadness as we feel the absence of those we have lost. Here are some things to consider as you cope with grief and loss this holiday season:
- Keep things simple; eliminate unnecessary stress; don’t expect yourself to do all you might have done from past holidays. Allow yourself some time and self-care and communicate with your loved ones your intentions.
- Find a way to honor the life of your loved one.
- Spend time sharing stories of your loved one; take time to process your feelings around this loss.
- Create new traditions. This could be as simple as lighting a candle or donating a gift in that person’s memory or a more involved project like a memory box, preparing that person’s favorite meal, or a quilt.
- Nurture those relationships that are most meaningful to you.
- Find ways to share your time, talents, and skills.
- Allow yourself all the feelings of the holidays. Expect joy, sadness, love, laughter, and be generous with yourself.
There are resources to support those who might want professional support from individual counseling to bereavement support groups. I found one online community that has articles, forums, community groups, and ways to create an online memorial for your loved one at www.hellogrief.org. Please feel free to contact me if you would like referrals. It is important to remember we all grieve in our own ways and there is no right or wrong way. Most important is to remember to take care of you during this time.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
Liz Murray grew up in New York in a struggling family of four, as both of her parents struggled with IV drug addictions. At 15 years of age she found herself homeless after caring for her mother who died of AIDS; her father also would die of AIDS some years later. Determined to finish school, she managed to get straight A’s while she slept on park benches and on the underground trains. Liz was able to find a scholarship that would pay $12,000 a year for college and was accepted into Harvard where she graduated in June of 2009. Her book, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard, made it on the New York Times bestseller’s list and was also made into a Lifetime movie. Since then Liz has become a counselor, is the founder and director of Manifest Living and is a motivational speaker. Liz’s story is a great reminder that with perseverance, determination, and dreams people can accomplish great things despite very difficult upbringings.
Watch this video of Liz Murray talking about her experiences: