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Good grief, sharing the experience of loss can be a relief

Grief Cafe opens Wednesday nights, serving healing discussion
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Coffee and discussion help to ease the conditions of loss at the Grief Cafe each Wednesday evening in Quesnel. (Black Press file photo)

One of the most difficult conditions in life is experiencing loss.

One of the most difficult emotions in life is experiencing grief.

The two are conjoined twins, and together can overwhelm almost anyone, if the circumstances align. That’s why anyone and everyone is invited to the Grief Cafe every Wednesday night from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at Clayton’s Funeral Directors (582 Front Street), led by grief coach, and herself a sufferer of loss, Tanya North-Shymko.

“My mission - and I think Clayton’s is the same - is to change the narrative around the whole topic of grief and loss and death,” said North-Shymko. “And in a perfect world, if we can do that, people wouldn’t just lose a house or family member, and you get your three days bereavement leave, then it’s ‘get back to work and get over it,’ and you’re done. Because that doesn’t work.”

She remembers how, in the aftermath of her husband’s death, she would wake up in the morning and couldn’t locate her keys. She would eventually find them still in the door.

“That’s all grief brain,” she said. For others it can manifest as not wanting to celebrate certain holidays, or go to certain places, or watch certain TV programs, or for some it is hard to focus on simple tasks, or even just get through a regular day.

“Someone who will be drawn to come is the person really having difficulty finding the joy in life because of the death of someone, someone having trouble moving forward,” she said. “Grief can be a heavy burdern to carry alone.”

It’s important to remember, she added, that grief and burdensome loss can happen from more than just the death of a loved one. It could be the death of someone not as close but triggers some kind of heavy realization, it could be the death of a pet, it could be the loss of a job, a house, a friendship, the kids move out of the house, a move away from a beloved community, anything that represents a breakage in your own happiness that can’t be gotten back the same way again.

“Grief never really goes away, you just learn to live with it as part of your day to day life, so that you can still live your life with meaning while carrying on the legacy of those whom you’ve lost, or what you’ve lost,” said North-Symko.

The Grief Cafe is free to attend, no appointment necessary, and the mood is relaxed. The conversations are guided by North-Shymko but flow organically depending on those in attendance. There are refreshments, and no pressure to speak up on anything - speak and listen on your own terms.

Call North-Shymko at 250-925-4922 or Clayton’s Funeral Directors at 250-992-6723 for further information.

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