By Polly Keary, Editor
There are many kinds of loss, Kelly Baughman knows.
He is chaplain at Valley General Hospital, and much of the grief he encounters is related to the illness or death of a loved one.
But loss comes in many forms; in the loss of a job, a relationship, or a lifestyle, a home or even a pet, and recovering can be a long and confusing process.
So Chaplain Kelly, as he is known at the hospital, has started offering twice-monthly grief and loss support and education at the hospital.
Baughman is well acquainted with grief; he and his wife lost their daughter in 1994 while she was still a very young child. After that, he decided to become an ordained minister, and over the course of time, gravitated to grief and loss support.
There is no easy way to heal, he said. But there are things that can help.
“I don’t have any great answers,” he said. “But it’s about walking with people.”
People experience grief in a variety of ways, but they have some common themes, and knowing what they are and to expect them can help a grieving person know he or she is not going crazy.
“There’s a ball of emotions, a web, a ball of yarn, all these different emotions all at once, and just sifting through that can all be part of sorting it out,” said Baughman.
And people often find themselves alone through the worst of their grief, as people around them move on with their lives.
At those times, a listening ear and a comforting presence can be useful, said Baughman.
“It’s often not what you say, it’s often just being there with them, and validating that what they are going through is real, and being there,” he said.
There may be complications of grief, including serious depression.
Several years ago, Baughman offered a grief support group, but then other commitments took his attention.
Recently, however, he got the sense that there was still need for support for grieving people.
“I researched a little and didn’t see much offered in the valley,” he said.
So every first and third Tuesday of the month, he offers grief and loss support in the Valley General Hospital chapel.
It’s not a support group, per se; although there may be several people there. Often Baughman sees one person at a time.
Nor is it grief counseling. Instead, Baughman offers education about grief, telling people what is normal and predictable through the process.
But most of all, it’s a place to go to talk about what is occurring, where someone will listen with a compassionate and experienced ear.
The meetings are free, and take place in the Valley General Hospital chapel every first and third Tuesday of the month from 6-7 p.m.