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Providing a guide through grief

There's no set of instructions for dealing with grief, but with a series of seminars set to start next week the Farmington Ministerial Association hopes to at least provide a few helpful suggestions.

The seven-week series will cover topics including staying connected while grieving, moving on, even handling the financial demands of the grieving process.

Planning for the sessions started early in the summer with a request for help. Caren Privette, who had recently lost her husband, was looking for guidance. So she went to Sandy Glau, the parish director for pastoral life at St. Michael's Catholic Church.

"She was just kind of grappling with what to do financially," Glau said. "She had all these things because her husband had taken care of everything."

Privette asked Glau for guidance, and Glau went to the ministerial association. The seminars grew from there. The group decided what topics to cover, found people to speak on those topics and set up a schedule.

Glau said she's happy with the way things have come together.

"There are grief groups around, but people might have to drive a distance to get to them," Glau said. "We liked the idea of the churches right here in Farmington really tending to these people."

Jamie Thompson, pastor at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, knows there are people out there looking for guidance as they grieve. Thompson will be a co-presenter of the Oct. 20 seminar, "The Spiritual Journey of Hope Through Grief."

Dealing with grief is part of the job description for Thompson as it is for any pastor. And Thompson said he's seen several instances of grief in his congregation in recent months.

"Grief is just at the center for so many people in their faith journey and there's no normal path through it," Thompson said. "I think when we can provide opportunities for people to look at it, talk about it, walk through it, that's a healthy thing."

The series will help people work through the emotional aspects of grief, but the goal is to provide some more concrete information as well. They'll talk about making connections to avoid feeling isolated while grieving. They'll also talk about dealing with finances.

Financial advisor Luther Hagen said money issues are often a problem for someone who has lost a loved one. He'll present a Nov. 3 seminar on "planning for the financial demands of grief."

"If it's an older woman, a lot of times the man was the person who dealt with those (money) issues," Hagen said. "When he dies, she's left with a lot of uncertainty."

Hagen will cover issues such as social security and how to handle investments. He hopes his seminar will provide people with the financial tools they need to handle their individual situations.

In the end, that's what the entire series is about: providing people with some resources designed to help them get through whatever they're dealing with.

"I hope they come to each one of them and leave each one of them knowing whatever they're feeling is normal," Thompson said. "Whatever they're experiencing, they experience it for themselves, but they don't have to be alone. They can connect and reconnect to others, because we all have pain. Being alone adds to that pain."

The grief series begins Oct. 6 with an overview of hope and grief. The series will continue from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Nov. 17.