By Greg Price
It was a baker’s dozen of people at the Taber Public Library earlier this month. Strangers for the most part, for one brief evening, these strangers felt like family.
Michael Rose hosted a seminar exploring dealing with grief and loss and there was plenty of that explored for a couple of hours. Grief and loss has a way of connecting us all as loss is commonplace in all our lives. Rose has been in the community for 25 years and has done grief counselling through ministry and working with youth at risk and adults who are facing difficult challenges.
That included The Rock ministry that was borne out of the tragic W.R. Myers school shooting back in April 1999 that killed Jason Lang and injured another student, serving and caring for people where they are at, without strings.
As Rose pointed out, loss comes in many different forms besides just the loss of a loved one which was predominately explored. Loss of a job, loss of a relationship, estrangement from family or friends, loss of property, a downturn in health — situations can be near endless that make a person feel lost.
I attended the session with the initial intent of writing a regular news story on it, but given how broad the issues that were explored, I did not feel it could be encapsulated in news form given how personal the dialogue was.
The conversations definitely had some life benchmarks come flooding back for me. The loss of a grandfather and the guilt I’ve felt dealing with his Alzheimer’s not very constructively, a very close aunt that served almost as a second mother who I still miss in her passing, a string of failed romantic relationships that I both feel I could have tried harder in and also frustrations over others I felt I was taken advantage of with my ‘nice guy’ persona.
Also times I have felt alienated from family and friends.
Others in the room recounted some of their feelings of loss of loved ones, some with the most tragic of circumstances. For those mere hours it’s a safe place for people to connect, leave it all out there and have strangers gain new perspectives of how people handle grief and loss in their own unique way.
While Rose was there to help the people in the room navigate loss, he had the self awareness to know that each person was unique and there was no magical wand to have people reach satisfactory closure, which in essence, never really closes, but can be continued on in a more fulfilling way with those who we have loved and lost.
“It is a process that we can address the should ofs, could ofs and would ofs. Those things we wish maybe were different, better or more, and bring completion to those things,” said Rose.
Rose shared a story of his own alienation he has/had felt with a family member and how he arrived at a better place, noting while there was plenty of hurt surrounding the person in question in the distance he felt, remembering some of the good times acknowledged it was not all doom and gloom. Rose chose to hang onto those pieces of good things rather than the resentment of the bad.
Whether that was the point or not in revealing something so personal to the crowd, it certainly gave the talk a feeling that we are all in this together with the various issues we deal with, and Rose indeed practised what he preached.
People in the community and staff have sometimes wondered how I can reveal such personal things about myself in my columns that often have a ‘Slice of life’ theme to them.
My answer is simple…how can I not?
My very profession is predicated on the fact that in some stories, people have to trust me in revealing some very personal things going on in their lives.
If I cannot afford people the same thing, what right do I have asking that of others?
I consider Rose a close friend and try to meet with him for lunch at least once a week to recharge the spiritual batteries in a profession that can be trying at times. But I got to see how well he relates to others during his session at the library, as the group felt at ease revealing very personal things in their lives.
Sometimes that is all a person needs, is a feeling of genuineness of someone intently listening to them to get things off their chest.
Was every issue that was discussed that night resolved in one night? Of course not, years of pain one has felt in longing for more time from people long past cannot be resolved so easily.
But, it steered many people in the right direction in the completion they seek in steering those memories in a more positive direction.
If there are any readers out there who are having their own struggles in their dealing with loss or other types of grief, I’d recommend trying to connect with Michael Rose who is a certified grief recovery method specialist with his IamSignificant…at the very least, you will come in contact with someone who is genuine in their empathy.