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Workshop helps participants cope with loss around Valentine's Day

By Katie Demeria

For those who have lost significant others, Valentine's Day is sometimes just a reminder of their grief. Blue Ridge Hospice in Winchester is trying to help those individuals cope.

The organization will host their "Forever Mine Valentine Grief Workshop" on Tuesday. The program has been part of Blue Ridge Hospice's counseling program for several years, according to manager of counseling services Beth Rudy.

"Valentine's Day is all about couples, and when you've lost a loved one, it's very difficult to cope," Rudy said.

The program is meant for anyone who has lost a loved, but Rudy said it is open to anyone who needs help coping.

"I send my mom and dad valentines. We know that it can be hard for anyone that has lost a loved one," she said. "We're very inclusive here."

Tracy Knight, a bereavement counselor with Blue Ridge Hospice who has worked there for six years along with Leigh Janks, a music therapist, will run the workshop. The two will use music and art to teach participants coping strategies, Rudy said.

Those strategies will allow participants, in a creative and safe way, to express their grief, she continued.

"A lot of people will tell us that it helps them so much to have this safe space where they can shed tears," Rudy said. "And also where they can actually talk about their loved one, because you can't work through your story if you can't tell your story."

Rudy said that oftentimes people are uncomfortable with the tears or distress of others.

"Especially if someone else hasn't lost a loved one before, not everyone is OK listening to others talk about who they've lost," she continued. "So these workshops allow people to voice themselves and really be heard by others who understand."

Many Blue Ridge Hospice support groups use music therapy, Rudy said.

"Music allows appropriate expressions of grieving," she said. "In this session, they'll do lyric analysis. The therapy that's provided with the music is very beneficial for working through grief feelings."

Participants will also create a valentine, Rudy said.

"Valentine's Day is one of the most difficult holidays for those who have lost a loved one. It's right up there with Christmas," she said.

All of Blue Ridge Hospice's grieving workshops are free. The organization offers several throughout the year, some on a regular basis and others, like the Forever Mine Workshop, during special occasions.

Many people, Rudy said, do not know how to cope with loss, and the group sessions create a healthy route for them to do so.

"People expect this grief to run its course in a nice tidy way, and that of course doesn't happen," she said. "Grief is a circle, it's not a straight line. Just to have that safe space where people can express their grief and how much they miss their loved one is vital."

Those interested in participating can sign up by calling 540-536-5210.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com

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