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TWU Home > Marketing & Communication > News Releases

TWU professor offers help to the hurting


DENTON — The holidays can be tough on those who have lost a loved one. A traditional time of celebration may become a time to “get through” or avoid altogether.

Dr. Susan Adams, associate professor of counseling and development at Texas Woman’s University, says any holiday can be difficult for those who have suffered a loss. She regularly conducts grief seminars to give survivors the tools to cope with that loss.

The holiday seminars include several optional memorial opportunities, including a “Remembrance Service” in which participants may decorate a memory tree with ornaments to honor loved ones who have died. Those who would like to take part in the service are asked to bring an unbreakable ornament to the program.

Some try to avoid the holidays altogether. Dr. Adams cautions against trying to run from the pain, saying one of her goals in the seminar is to “help people understand that we have to deal with our pain. The further away we try to push it, the more it becomes our focal point.”

Others deal with their grief in different ways.

“People frequently cover up the void of the ‘empty moments’ with excessive activities, like work, or excessive sleeping to avoid the pain,” Dr. Adams said. “Unfortunately, people may engage in unhealthy activities, such as using alcohol or drugs to anesthetize the pain.”

Instead, Dr. Adams suggests that people find ways to incorporate the memory of the loved one. By acknowledging the pain, she said, you give yourself permission to remember the person, to honor the pain of the loss and to embrace all of the memory of the person — not just the painful memories.

“Many times, people feel that if they let go of their sadness, they will lose the memory,” Dr. Adams said. “They often get stuck in their grief.”
Sometimes, unresolved conflict from the past leads a person to become “stuck in their grief.” Seeking counseling with someone trained to work with grieving clients is beneficial and allows them to move through their grieving process to find a place of healing, Dr. Adams said.

“The goal of healthy grieving is never to ‘get over’ the loss, because this is not something you ever get over,” she said. “Life as you know it has forever changed, but you can find a new way to live and incorporate the presence of the person into your future. It won’t be the physical presence, but it can be the influence that lives on in our hearts and minds.”



Media Contact:

Karen Garcia
Senior Writer
Tel: (940) 898-3456
e-mail: kgarcia@twu.edu


Page last updated January 22, 2009

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