By Deborah Rose

By Any Other Name

"Let it go."

It's the popular song made famous by Idina Menzel for Disney's blockbuster movie "Frozen."

And it's also what many of us advise friends and family members to do when they seem stuck or unable to make a decision, or when they are grieving.

But for many of us, letting go of something -- or someone -- can be challenging and painful.

Whether it's the loss of a dream or a goal, a friend who moves away, a job, a relationship, a regret or the death of a pet or a loved one, the pain we feel is real and our heart hurts.

Whatever the trigger, it's important to remember our emotions are healthy and normal -- they are a sign we are alive and can feel -- and that we are wading through one or more stages of the grieving process.

In her 1969 book, "On Death and Dying," American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified the five stages of grief as denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

While these emotional stages tend to be what one experiences when faced with the impending death or the death of someone, these stages also apply to other losses in our lives.

Years ago I made a list of the losses I had experienced in my life up until that time. I rated each event on how it impacted my life. It was an exhausting and emotional task, but it was ultimately therapeutic.

It made me more keenly aware of just how much loss surrounds us and it shed light on what events in my life had more impact on me than I had thought.

Regardless of how loss touches our lives, it is something we must face.

What astounds me is how resilient we, as individuals -- and communities -- can be as we work through our grief. We often come out stronger, shining more brightly.

It's been just more than 20 years since I first attended the bereavement support group offered at the New Milford Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice, following the death of my mom's fiance.

The group provided -- and still provides -- a safe environment for participants to express themselves and find healing.

Ironically, my mom's fiance's death also triggered another loss my mother had kept quiet -- the fact she relinquished a child for adoption years earlier. Through the group, she found healing for both losses.

Following are the VNA's bereavement programs:

A five-week bereavement workshop to help adults cope with the holiday season will be held Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 11 through Dec. 9 at the VNA, 68 Park Lane Road, with Bob O'Keefe as the facilitator.

A bereavement group for adults is offered the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the VNA, 68 Park Lane Road, with O'Keefe as facilitator.

A bereavement group, Living Without A Partner, open to individuals who have lost a spouse or partner in the past two years, meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the New Milford Senior Center at 40 Main St., with Catherine Vlasto, LCSW, as facilitator.

Sad and dark as grief may be, I find there is a beauty in it, when we connect with the deepest part of ourselves.

It's in that connection with ourselves, we see light twinkle and peace begin to stir in our hearts.

For more information about the bereavement groups, or to register for the five-week session, call the VNA at 860-354-2216.