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Support available for widows and widowers

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A local social worker is looking to help recent widows and widowers.

Maria Wasylkewycz of A&O (formerly Age and Opportunity) is running a Widow/er to Widow/er group running Wednesdays from May 8 to June 12 at Access River East (975 Henderson Hwy.) Sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

The group is geared toward those aged 55 and older who feel comfortable not only talking about their own feelings, but hearing the stories of others as well.

"It is a profound loss, and a huge change in their lives," said Wasylkewycz. "I talk about it not only being an emotional experience. It’s all-encompassing. It affects them physically, spiritually, psychologically – there’s all these different aspects of the experience of that loss.

"They have to find some new way to find meaning in their lives again, and a new way to rebuild their lives."

Wasylkewycz said the magic number for participants is around six.

"I’ve had all the way up to 10 people, but I find if the group is too large, then some people just fade into the background," she said. "They don’t get a real good chance to participate. There are always people who are more talkative and more dominant."

However, she said there are times people come to try it out, but aren’t quite ready.

Wasylkewycz added if attendees decide they’d feel more comfortable at a different time, they will be welcomed back in future sessions.

"People may start into the group and find that it’s too difficult emotionally for them, or it’s not exactly what they thought it was going to be. Some people think it’s a lecture, and it’s not," she said. "It focuses on people’s own experiences on the loss of their spouse. Initially, I tend to do a little more talking until people start to know one another better and start trusting the group a little better."

Wasylkewycz added there’s no right way or wrong way to mourn – everybody does it in their own way. One of the goals of the group is to get the participants comfortable feeling how they feel.

In addition to the group, Wasylkewycz organizes a Moving Forward group also based out of Access River East. The program is for those who have taken the next step in the grieving process and offers social and recreational activities.

Those looking for more information or to register can call A&O at 204-956-6440 or Wasylkewycz directly at 204-956-9760.

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