Organization reaches out to mend hurting hearts

2012-09-06T00:00:00Z Organization reaches out to mend hurting heartsEloise Marie Valadez Eloise.Valadez@nwi.com, (219) 933-3365 nwitimes.com

Hospice of the Calumet Area is offering needed consolation and providing a shoulder to lean on through a special program for teens.

The organization regularly presents "Healing Hearts for Teens," a support group geared to individuals ages 13 to 17 who have lost a loved one.

"The teenage group is an underserved population in this general area (when it comes to helping with bereavement issues)," said Dorothy Poma, bereavement facilitator. Poma and Nancy Feldman are at the helm of the free group.

The teen bereavement group's latest session began Aug. 27 and runs through Oct. 29. Individuals may sign up for the current session through Sept. 10. A new session will begin Jan. 7.

Poma said the group got its start at the end of 2010. During the program, the teens learn to process their feelings and are assisted in learning to understand that they're not alone in dealing with their grief.

"We use activities," Poma said, while helping them through the grieving process.

The facilitators always talk with a parent or guardian prior to the teen joining the group to make sure the individual really wants to be there.

Extreme grief is often seen in a person's facial expressions and body language, Poma explained. "We educate them on what grief is and ways they can cope with their grief."

The support group is open to the community and is not just for family members of persons who have been in hospice care through the organization.

"It can be any kind of death and there's no time range either," she said. "The person could have died a long time ago or a month ago."

The lines of communication are always open between the facilitators and members of the group as individuals are trying to work through intense feelings of grief.

"We support them and they support each other," Poma said.

"We create a safe environment for them," she said, adding it makes it easier to open up and share in a situation that's non-threatening.

The groups usually include anywhere from a few people up to 11 individuals.

Poma said as she's worked with the bereavement groups through the last couple of years, she recognizes how they really provide something positive and necessary for individuals who feel devastated and heartbroken.

"We can see it help them and we see them improving," she said.

In addition to the teen group, Hospice of the Calumet Area also offers bereavement groups for children ages 6 to 12 and for adults 18 and older. For information on "Healing Hearts for Teens" and other groups, call (219) 922-2732.

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