Advice: 'Learn about, cope with and address grief'
Aches with an emptiness echoed in tears that may occasionally, or frequently, slip from beneath your lashes and roll down your cheeks.
Sometimes the mind teases.
Teases with a healthy giddiness perhaps reflected in the smile upon your face when you fondly remember.
It's okay to let the heart ache and the mind tease. It's all part of the grieving that follows the loss of someone close to you.
Anything can trigger grief.
Catching a whiff of a stranger's cologne as they pass by in the grocery store, a fragrance so familiar you close your eyes to savor the sweet smell.
Spotting in the garden a neighbor wearing a plaid shirt similar to the one your loved one once wore, a sight you can't help but take in with awe as tears break loose.
Meeting for the first time a business associate whose features keenly resemble your loved one's, so much so you do a double take.
Hearing the song you used to sing along to with your loved one in the car, a song that today you can listen to instead of changing the radio station.
The heartache never disappears.
Loss is loss, regardless of the type -- a death of a loved one or pet, a breakup or divorce, the departure of a longtime job, a change in finances, the relinquishment of a child, a move into a new home or a different town or state.
The list goes on.
Whatever the loss, we can experience an array of emotions at any time -- right after the loss or years later.
The late Elisabeth K�bler-Ross, a psychiatrist and author, was well known for her description of five distinct stages by which people grieve: denial, angering, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Over the years I have experienced the various stages, and often bounced back and forth from one to another, as I have grieved losses in my life.
Thankfully, a bereavement support group offered by the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association helped me through at least one of my losses.
The VNA has for many years offered residents of the Greater New Milford area the opportunity to learn about, cope with and address their grief through support groups and special workshops.
Among the organization's bereavement offerings are two annual programs, a five-week community bereavement workshop aimed at helping adults cope with the holiday season and a four-week children's bereavement support group.
Both of the programs will kick off in the coming weeks.
In addition, a bereavement support group for adults is held twice a month.
On top of that, a teen and grief series will be offered in the spring and a bereavement camp for children will be available next summer.
Bob O'Keefe, a licensed clinical social worker, leads the ongoing support group and seasonal workshop, while Mary Lee Carroll, also a licensed clinical social worker, facilitates the children's support group.
I first met Bob back in the early 1990s when I attended the bereavement support group with my mother following the death of her fiance.
It was helpful to be surrounded by others who were experiencing similar emotions, even though we were all in a different place, or stage, in our grieving.
Having the opportunity to hear others openly share some of their most sacred thoughts about their loss and the way they were coping with it was a special gift I valued and served as a tool to help me through my pain.
The VNA's doors are open.
You just have to walk in.
The five-week community bereavement workshop will begin Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. at the VNA on Route 202.
The children's bereavement support group, which is open to children age 6 to 12, will begin Nov. 26 and run for four weeks.
The bereavement support group meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the VNA.
For more information or to register for the community workshop, call the VNA at (860) 354-2216.