Tess understands grief.

She has experienced more heartache in the span of two years than most. Since September of 2021, she has lost her mother, her mother- and father-in law, her brother, and her brother- and sister-in law, the last of whom was her best friend since the age of 10.

Tess says, “Because my personality is that of a ‘fixer,’ I wanted to support everyone in my family through these losses…In truth, I was emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.”

In this, Tess is not alone. So many people experience the process of mourning, but there is no guide for managing the emotions that accompany that process. Grief is nonlinear, and healing is not a seamless journey.

Feeling immobilized, Tess contacted grief counselor, Sylvia Havlish, M.Ed. Sylvia serves as a grief counselor with Lutheran Congregational Services and facilitates Journeys through Grief, a communal support group. Journeys through Grief offers bereavement services and counseling seminars to anyone in the community at no charge.

Sylvia’s methods emphasize the power of human connection and the communal resiliency we all share. “It can be healing to be around others who are also grieving, because they truly understand the way you feel,” Sylvia explains.

Journeys through Grief aims to equip bereaved individuals with the tools they need to process and come to terms with loss. The goal is not to speed the mourning process, but rather to offer loved ones the chance to truly experience life again.

In Tess’s experience, Sylvia and Journeys through Grief played a vital role in accepting her new reality after so many losses. “Within my first two weeks, I began to breathe again,” Tess later wrote in gratitude. “Over the last 6 weeks, I have utilized (Sylvia’s) suggestions and given myself the opportunity to heal.”