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Holiday grief support offered

December 08, 2010 - Ortonville- The holidays are a time of joy and the source of happy memories for many, but this can be exactly what makes the season so incredibly painful and difficult to get through for people who have lost a loved one.

"Holidays are associated with being around family, sharing meals and memories and gifts and all of a sudden that person is not there anymore," said Michael Jordan, who, along with his wife Beth Jordan, lead the Hillside Bible Church Grief Care Group. "You have to create a different memory, a new normal for that holiday, as well as for life in general, now that the person isn't there."

The Jordans know the devastation of losing a loved one— their 8-year-old daughter, Emily, died on Labor Day 2002 when a wooden swingset collapsed.

The first Christmas after her death was terrible for the Jordans and rather than celebrating the holiday, they were just trying to survive it.

Now, they try to help others get through the pain. A memorial candlelight service will be from 6-7:30 p.m., Dec. 12, at Hillside Bible Church, 173 Church St. The evening is meant to offer safe and supportive encouragement to everyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. There will be singing, some words from the pastor, a Scripture reading and then a discussion group led by licensed counselor Rhonda Tomei and the Jordans, who recently completed training in Colorado to be certified as bereavement specialists.

"We learned a lot in how to help people walk through their journey and grief," Michael Jordan said. "It's not something to be cured, it's a process that lasts a lifetime... When people are grieving, they need to grieve where they are at, not where someone else wants them to be. There is no right or wrong way to grieve."

Holiday grieving is usually accompanied by dread and an anticipation that is often worse than the holiday itself, ex-plains Jordan.

"I think our minds just naturally plan for the worst and then when that day gets there, it's not as bad as what they thought it would be," he said.

Jordan recommends that those grieving don't expect too much, and do what they need to do to survive the holiday.

"If you are uncomfortable going to the family dinner, don't go," he said.

"If you are uncomfortable with the singing in church, leave until it is over. If there is something you can't handle, step aside or step away from the situation. You will be ready when it is your time."

While the holidays aren't the same since they lost Emily, the Jordans still celebrate the holidays and have found joy again.

Besides the candlelight service, those needing comfort can also find it at the next meeting of the grief care group, planned foir 6:30 p.m-8 p.m., Dec. 20, at the Hillside Bible Church, 173 Church St. Tomei also leads a pregnancy loss support ministry at the church on the fourth Wednesday of every month, with the next meeting at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 22.

Details: 24-hour grief care line, Michael and Beth Jordan, 248-672-1882. Pregnancy loss support ministry, Rhonda Tomei, 248-627-2513.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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