Getting through the holidays is hard enough for many who struggle with loss. But facing a new year without that loved one can seem impossible. Getting through each day requires a listening ear and sympathetic heart. That’s where Laurie Taylor and the Grief and Loss Center (GLC) can help.
“We are honored to walk alongside those who grieve and offer hope. Each person grieves differently, and many feel like others don’t want to hear their story. We’re there to support and encourage them,” said Taylor, founder and director of the center.
Officially founded in March 2011, Taylor and the board of directors, comprised of professionals from a variety of disciplines, decided that a community-based, free center was critical to this part of town.
“Many churches have faith-based programs, which are helpful and valid, but there was no program in this area that was community-based and did not charge a fee, at least none that I was aware of,” she said.
But providing free aid still costs money, so Taylor is eager to find groups and individuals willing to contribute to the non-profit so that it can grow to meet the vision of service.
“We are a young organization. We’d be very appreciative of any gift and would use it wisely,” Taylor affirmed.
While the center is currently located inside Wilshire Baptist Church, and Taylor describes herself as a woman of faith, she says one’s spiritual beliefs are not a factor in receiving care.
“We want any person of any faith or of no faith—the bazillionaire or the person off the street—all kinds. Everyone is welcome,” she said.
The center’s primary focus is on the bereaved—those who have suffered the loss of a loved one—or those who have received a life-altering diagnosis or are in palliative care. But those are not the only issues Taylor sees. Suicide, childhood and teen grief, or the loss of jobs, lifestyles and relationships can leave many of us floundering.
“People think they’re going crazy. They forget things. Some are numb. But they believe that because they’ve never been through grief before,” she explained.
“I felt so lost and alone when my husband died. I didn’t think I would ever stop crying. I wouldn’t have survived without the staff at the center and friends I made in my group,” Sandra, one of the clients whose last name is withheld for privacy, said.
Children have also found healing and will have increased opportunities for help when the GLC expands its program in September 2012. It will provide help for children three to 18 and their families. “When I met the other kids in my group, I found I wasn’t the only one who was sad because someone they loved died,” Bryn said.
The GLC also hopes to reach out to schools, retirement centers and other groups to support and educate those communities.
Taylor is board-certified in thanatology, the study of death, dying and bereavement, through the Association of Death Education and Counseling, but she is not a licensed professional counselor.
“I am very passionate about this and have been doing it for 39 years. There was a time when people’s pain and horrific loss would consume me,” she said. “But now I have seen hundreds of people move through this and find joy and hope. That’s what keeps me from getting weighed down. There is hope!”
If you are struggling with the loss of a loved one or know someone who is, contact Laurie Taylor at 214-452-3105 or on the web at mygriefandloss.org.
Visit WhiteRockLakeWeekly.com for some helpful tips on comforting the bereaved.
Tips for Comforting the Bereaved
- Send regular notes or calls just tell them you are thinking about them/praying for them.
- Use their loved one’s name. They need to hear it.
- Be available.
- Don’t be shy about recalling a memory about the deceased; it helps their survivors know their loved one is not forgotten.
“We’re real good with the casseroles for the first two weeks, then after that it just drops off.”
“One of the hardest days is not the birthday of the deceased, but of the one left behind because their loved one isn’t there to celebrate their birthday for/with them.”