CRESTVIEW — Starting 2013 may be difficult for those who’ve lost loved ones over the holidays, but coping methods may aid the healing process.


CRESTVIEW — Starting 2013 may be difficult for those who’ve lost loved ones over the holidays, but coping methods may aid the healing process.



"A lot of these people can't even think about celebrating this time of year," Karen McGavin, a social worker with Covenant Hospice in Crestview, said. "The key is to build on peace and acceptance.”



Attending free grief support meetings, like Covenant’s, may help, she said. The schedule is still being worked out.



Dolores Russell, 75 — who began attending meetings after Elbert, her husband of 40-plus years, died in 2006 — said she understands how the winter season can compound grief.



"This time of year is hectic enough, just dealing with shopping and holidays," Russell said.



Covenant’s program — which allows a group of attendees to share grieving experiences — meets once a week for six weeks.



Russell suggested attending meetings when the cycle starts.



"It’s better to get in on the beginning because the grief counselor takes you through the process of grieving," she said.



That means facing uncomfortable topics head on.  



"The only other way to get over anything is to deal with it," Russell said. "No matter what life throws at you, you have to deal with it then and not put it off till later."



Like the adage says, time heals, she said. "Going to counseling gives you the tools to deal with the different feelings and emotions.”



Actions, in addition to expressing grief, can aid the process, group organizers said.



"You can honor your loved ones by donating to a charity in their name," McGavin said. 



Survivors also can make a list of family and friends they can call when depressed.



"I advise — just because I have been there and done that — to seek help," Russell said. "There is no shame in seeking help."



Want to go?



Grief support meetings run 2-4 p.m. Feb. 4 through March 11  at Covenant Hospice, 370 W. Redstone Ave., Crestview.



Contact bereavement specialist Keli Cummings, 682-3628, for more information.



Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or matthewb@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.