Living Columns & Blogs

Safe places to take your grief

A gentleman walked into a one of our support group gatherings and was visibly weighed down by grief. When he accepted an invitation to share, he first spoke of the death of his wife. Later, he spoke about feeling like a fish out of water because he didn’t think he liked sharing his feelings. I wondered to myself if he would return to the next group gathering, but he did and spoke even more. This mourner stepped outside his comfort zone and was finding healing — he found a community and a safe place to take his grief.

In our culture, we value individualism and independence. However, when it comes to grief — although it is an individual journey — we cannot do it alone. The root of the word grief is the Latin “gravis,” meaning heavy. The heaviness starts to decrease when grief is shared, heard and validated — by talking, writing, crying, creating, walking, to name a few. In many indigenous cultures, sacred rituals allow for this expression of grief. In our culture, we need to look for opportunities to move grief from the inside to the outside. Two upcoming options are:

Community Remembrace Creation, 1-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, State College Presbyterian Church, rear porch, on the corner of Highland Alley and Fraser Street, State College.

Using art, we’ll honor lost loved ones and our grief journeys by creating a “thought bubble” to express our thoughts and feelings in a word or phrase. Grief and loss is a shared experience, so we hope you’ll come connect, contribute and heal. This activity is brought to you by “Learning to Live: What’s Your Story?,” a collaborative partnership between Penn State’s Cedar Clinic, various PSU Campus Ministries and area churches, Tides, Koch Funeral Home, and other individuals and organizations. Our mission is to encourage people to share their stories of how they are learning to live with loss — loss, grief, growth and transformation. For more information, visit

Monday’s Moments Complimentary Luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m. Aug. 7, Courtyard by Marriott State College, 1730 University Drive, State College.

When you lose a loved one, without their physical presence, what remains? Their legacy. At our August’s Monday’s Moment luncheon, “Live, Love, Learn & Leave a Legacy,” you’ll learn about ways to keep your loved one’s legacy alive while also attending to your own. This process can actually help you live more fully now. RSVP to by Aug. 2. Space is limited.

We hope you find safe places to take your grief, move it from the inside to the outside, heal and grow.

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director and celebrant. She coordinates the “Helping Grieving Hearts Heal” program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.