Coping with loss? Help is available

First Posted: 2/3/2014

Denise Sult is using her personal experiences dealing with the loss of a loved one to help others in the Back Mountain community.

Sult, of Harveys Lake, will lead a grief support group at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month at River of Life Fellowship in Lehman.

Sult’s 32-year-old son Ryan died nearly two years ago as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident. She said she was inspired to start a grief support group while dealing with her own emotions following his death.

“I wanted something good to come out of (this process),” said Sult. “It’s good to help others and it will also help me.”

Sult attended two other grief support groups to prepare and found techniques and other helpful tidbits to integrate into her own group.

“The first group was once a month and there was a counselor present and it was mostly a conversation-style group,” she said. “The second one was a seven-week group and it was very structured. You used a journal and each week we had homework to do.”

Sult has learned quite a bit about handling grief in the months since her son’s passing, and she hopes her personal experiences will help her relate to others’ situations.

“I’m not a professional counselor, but because I’m going through it myself I hope people can see that I am understanding and compassionate,” she said. “And whatever anyone says here, stays here.”

Sult and her husband were living with her daughter at the time of Ryan’s passing, and she said having the family together was helpful during that difficult time.

“We did a lot of talking and a lot of crying,” she said.

The grief support group at River of Life is open to the community, not just church members. Sult said she noticed a need in the community for such a group within the last year.

“We’ve had three (members of the church) lose their spouses this year,” she said.

Sult said everyone handles grief in their own way, but it also helps to have a support system in place in order to heal.

“I just want to help people realize that grief is a process, and whatever stage you’re in, that’s OK,” she said. “I think I’m doing well most of the time. At first, there was a lot of anger and crying. All those feelings are normal. You can’t set a time frame on it.”

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