'Embrace Your Grief,' Advises Counselor

The founder of 'Grief Matters' shares wisdom and valuable information for those mourning the loss of a loved one.

Less than a year ago, Carole McLeod took a giant step. She started a business doing something that she loves and that has been part of her life for 40 years.

Carole helps people heal from their grief over the death of a loved one.

Carole is fulfilling this mission as founder and president of Grief Matters –"an educational resource for caregivers or anyone mourning the death of a loved one."

Carole's credentials speak for themselves. For 25 years, she and her late husband, Alan, were owners of a local funeral home. Not merely content with just helping families honor and prepare their deceased loved ones for a final resting place, she and her husband founded a grief support group. 

They called it "Comfort Circle®," the first of its kind in the Tampa Bay area. This group was so successful that after the McLeods merged their business with Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes, Carole continued to spearhead this group for Anderson-McQueen, in her role as a certified bereavement facilitator. 

Despite having launched her own mourning relief practice, she continues to facilitate the Comfort Circle® free grief support classes at Anderson-McQueen's Life Celebration Reception Center, 7820 38th Ave. N., in St. Petersburg.

But Carole's credentials don't end there. She is an active member of the Association of Death & Education Counseling, the American Academy of Bereavement and the National Catholic Ministry to the Bereaved. 

In addition, she flies to Colorado from time to time to study with renowned author, educator, and grief counselor Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt. He is the founder and director for the internationally recognized Center for Loss and Life Transition, in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

Her goal is to earn a Death and Grief Studies certification from Colorado State University, which will make her even more knowledgeable in her field, if that is possible for this grief guru.  

Given her extensive background and ongoing learning in bereavement, and the fact that as we grow older, coping with the loss of a loved one becomes a more common occurrence for all of us, we asked Carole to share advice to help readers who may now or in the near future find themselves in mourning. Here is some of what she shared with us:

"First of all," she said, "grief is a process, not an event.  It is not a disease you can cure quickly. You must embrace your grief.  It will be a journey in which you will experience hills, valleys, pot holes and curves…There are no detours in this journey, but there are 'rest areas' to allow you to continue on your way.  And at these areas, there is an opportunity to embrace your grief."

Carole said these areas include:

• Crying.  "Allow yourself the healing effect of tears. They are nature's way of releasing the tension that comes with sorrow. (In doing so), you will feel better afterwards and you will have started your healing process." 

• Talking. "Talk about your loved one. Talk about how you are feeling," she stated. "Develop a support system within your family or with a close friend.  Chose someone who will be an active listener, someone who is not judgmental and might extinguish your need to mourn openly. Avoid people who are critical.  Remember, it is your grief.  Therefore, you have the right to express it the way you want.  No one can take that away from you." 

Remember the memories. "They are the lasting part of a relationship you had with the person who died. They may be happy or sad, but don't be afraid to experience them. Hold them in your heart throughout your journey." 

Journaling. "Release your emotions on paper.  Keep a journal of what is going on inside you.  Go back in a few months and compare it with how you feel at that point. This is a good way to see how far you have traveled in your grief process."

• Join a support group. "It is always helpful to share with others who are going through the same process," Carole noted. "A support group will also give you opportunities to learn new ways of approaching problems and help you regain not only confidence within yourself, but trust in your fellow human beings." 

• Seek out resources. "Whether it's books, videos, tapes, magazine articles or other materials you may find, these will aid you with your grief work."  One source for such information can be found at Carole's website: www.goodgrief-mourning.com.  Here she has links to several useful publications on bereavement. 

Carole concluded, "Whatever you do, above all, be good to yourself -- emotionally, spiritually and physically."

For more information on the Comfort Circle® grief support groups at the Anderson-McQueen Life Celebration Reception Center, which are held over a six-week-class period Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., please call Carole at (727) 515-3399 or via e-mail: carole@goodgrief-mourning.com. 




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