Oxford therapists to lead free workshop to combat grief during holidays

As the holiday season is renown for the joy and merriment that comes with it, however the Oxford Treatment Center wants to help those who don’t share the same spirit.

The center is hosting a free community workshop, called “Finding Peace: Accepting Grief and Loss through the Holidays,” on December 4 as a part of its 2018 Community Workshop Series.

The workshop is for those who have experienced loss recently, and are having trouble coping with the gap that loss left behind.

Meaghan O’Conner, one of the therapists presenting at the workshop, said the pain of loss doesn’t exclusively mean the loss of a loved one and a lot of times people have difficulties recognizing non-death losses as something they need to grieve.

This kind of pain might range from the loss of a beloved pet, or the loss of a meaningful material item, or the loss associated with drug and alcohol addiction.

“If we sit there and think, ‘I’m not supposed to feel this, I’m fine,’” O’Conner said, “that doesn’t really help us. But, if we can sit there and recognize that, and say, ‘oh yeah, these are the feelings that I’m having,’ then we have kind of a roadmap.”

The center’s hope is they can end the stigma of not talking about grief, and O’Conner said the workshop gathering those who have similar feelings will provide a domino effect. That effect is if one person is willing to open up about a personal loss, that others attending the workshop will do the same.

O’Conner described a personal non-death loss when her parents sold her childhood home, and she found the best way to help her move on was to label it as grief, which allows one to start the grieving process.

“That’s been very powerful for me,” O’Conner said. “I think my biggest kind of goal through this event is to let people know that you are entitled to the full spectrum of human emotion every second of every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday.”

The workshop, which is in its second year, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Camp Lake Stephens in Oxford. The workshop is free to attend. However in lieu of a fee the center is accepting donations for the Rotary Club of Oxford-Ole Miss toy drive.

One of the specific things the camp wants to focus on are those recovering from drug and alcohol addictions relapsing during the holidays from stress.

“A lot of the anxiety around the holidays is, I have to present a certain way or I want my family to present a certain way,” O’Conner said. “When that doesn’t match up to what I was hoping for, then it creates anxiety. It creates suffering.”

O’Conner and the two other therapists joining her at the workshop, Dean Worsham and Daniel Winkler, will also be presenting at a continuing education conference for mental-health professionals from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Oxford Outpatient Center on December 4, as well.