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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Holistic Support for Grief at The Respite

by Lisa Moore

“We provide a safe atmosphere and community

for people to have permission to allow their grief, which is essential.”

Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, and social dimensions that make it difficult to embrace the present.

The Respite: A Centre For Grief and Hope is for those who have suffered great tragedy, a significant life loss, a trauma, a life-shaking, earth-shattering event or series of events. It is also for those that are living with every day losses that are life-changing and life-evolving.

The center, located at 4919 Monroe Road, was founded by three women who have intimately worked with grief. Elizabeth Berrien, Director of Marketing and Development,experienced the unexpected stillbirth of a child as well as the loss of her husband, a Special Forces soldier serving in Afghanistan. She founded Soul Widows, for women in a similar situation of heartache and upheaval.

Cindy Ballaro,Director of Awareness and Outreach, worked through the grief process after losing her job. She is certified in SoulCollage and Life Leadership and Coaching and is led to bring hope to the open-hearted.

Since 1993, Mandy Eppley, a licensed psychotherapist, has helped hundreds of people work through the effects of grief and trauma. She feels it is her personal calling to help our culture understand what grief is, to create a new relationship with the necessary losses we must face and to accept and deal with the tragic, unforeseen losses that can devastate our lives.

A 34-year-old client of Eppley’s sought her help in dealing with both a relationship and job loss. “One of the biggest things Mandy taught me was to truly embrace the paradox of my emotions. For instance, sometimes when you experience a loss you may feel a sense of relief or joy along with sadness. She taught me to feel all of that at the same time and to be ok with that.”

By being able to embrace her grief and not hide from it, the client was able to see the gifts within her loss. “I didn’t think I was living my full potential in my job and I feel free to do that now. I will be much better off. I think the universe has something different for me in mind and my path was being redirected.”

Regarding the relationship loss, she says Eppley helped her realize how her and her partner’s goals in life didn’t match up. “I realized there was someone much better for me out there. My potential wouldn’t have been reached with this person.”

A goal of The Respite is to shift how grief is viewed in the world - moving from shame and isolation to unveiling grief's transformative gifts. The center has a diverse and highly experienced staff and takes a holistic approach by providing not only therapy and support groups, but also educational opportunities, yoga, massage, healing creative arts and personal training/body care.

“We provide a safe atmosphere and community for people to have permission to allow their grief, which is essential. Then we provide tools and services to support people as they move through their grief journey, which allows them to learn more about themselves and their gifts. This often takes people to seeing their personal calling. When this occurs, people naturally want to give back to humanity,” says Ballaro.

A guiding principle of The Respite is to provide services for all, believing that every individual has the right to receive healing and support. Scholarships are available for those who cannot afford to pay full service fees.

Eppley’s client acknowledges that it is common in our society to suppress grief or turn to the classic ways to hide from it: food, alcohol, drugs, TV, shopping. She advises anyone experiencing grief to fully embrace it and move through the process. “The sooner you dive into it and feel it fully, the quicker you begin to heal.”

Healthy Ways to Deal with Grief

Connect with family members and close friends. Don’t go through grief alone. Reach out to those who care for you and love you. Avoid being around people who can’t deal with your grief.

Give yourself permission and time to grieve. Don’t put unrealistic demands upon yourself to “get over it.” Let yourself heal according to your own time frame.

Avoiding stressful situations and decisions. It’s especially important in the initial stages of grief when people don’t always exercise their best judgment.

Express your feelings in a creative way. It helps people cope with emotional pain, sadness and depression. For example, write a letter to your loved one who has passed or keep a journal of your feelings.

Try meditation, centering prayer and stress reduction techniques. Contemplative practices help to control stress and access deeper states of awareness or relaxation.

Get counseling. It helps to be able to discuss and vent your feelings in a non-judgmental environment to someone who understands.








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