Through times of loss, connecting with others brings us comfort. This past year and a half, people around the world have experienced great loss. For many, this came in the form of losing their everyday routine and the disappointment of cancelled or postponed life events.

But for those who lost someone they loved, there was an additional kind of grief that made these uncertain times especially heart wrenching.

Sylvia Havlish, a professional grief counselor for over 40 years, hosts Lutheran Congregational Services’ (LCS) grief groups for bereaved individuals. She understands how important connecting with others has been through these challenging times, especially for those grieving.

Throughout the pandemic, regulations like social distancing and limited capacity gatherings, motivated Sylvia and LCS to get creative. Wanting to continue to walk alongside those who are grieving, she began a grief group that meets virtually. 

Sylvia Havlish, professional grief counselor with Lutheran Congregational Services

Sylvia helps those who participate in her program begin to heal and find hope again. With each session, she provides a safe space where individuals can explore their feelings of loss while learning the many stages of grief and how to navigate them.

“Grief is a roller coaster,” Sylvia reflects. “There are such deep valleys and such high peaks. Over time, as you become reconciled with your new reality, the peaks and valleys begin to get less deep and not as high, and they get further and further apart. That’s what I call the path of grief,” she explains.

“There is no timeline to grief and no two grief journeys are the same,” she notes. “When you lose someone you love, so much of that grieving is working towards becoming reconciled with your new reality,” says Sylvia.

It’s been extremely difficult for those who have lost a loved one to not have the comfort of a hug or human touch during the pandemic restrictions. With Sylvia’s virtual grief groups this past year, simply having someone to talk to made them feel incredibly supported.

“People grieving really just need someone who will listen. That’s the best thing you can do for someone. That’s what I do. I listen,” says Sylvia. Listening to people who have experienced various kinds of loss, whether it be a spouse, friend, parent, child, or even pet, Sylvia knows that individuals who are grieving need a strong support system around them. She continues to provide this support as she returns to in-person sessions with her “Path of Grief” group this summer. This program provides education about the grieving process. While “Path of Grief” is not exclusively for bereaved individuals, it can be beneficial for them in many ways.

Sylvia’s “Path of Grief” group will meet in-person at Grace Lutheran Church (28 West Main St. Macungie, PA) on August 29 from 1:00 pm to 2:30. Click here to register!

“I think the best thing for people grieving is to be in touch with others and to tell them when you’re having a tough time, and to ask them for support,” she reflects. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of having someone who checks in with you,” she adds.

In addition to her weekly grief support groups, Sylvia and LCS provide healing with their “Journeys Through Grief” Facebook page. Here, Sylvia provides weekly prayers, videos, and photos that bring comfort and hope to the group’s members.

“You truly are a blessing. You always know exactly what we need to hear. Thank you,” says one participant on Facebook. “These are wonderful words of compassion and inspiration that you share,” says another.

As we walk towards better times together, Sylvia and LCS continue to provide hope and healing for bereaved individuals. With your gift, you fortify the essential support services and resources that they need during those darker moments that come with grieving.

Your generosity brings comfort and peace to God’s children who have experienced great loss this past year. Together, let’s share the healing power and love of Christ.

Give the gift of healing and hope! Click here to support Lutheran Congregational Services