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Finding Balance

There's a big difference between how we want grief to work out and how it actually does. Tulsa's Tristesse Grief Center is a top-notch counseling center that understands those needs.

Rob Harmon
Sarah Eliza Roberts
November 28, 2018

Have you heard any of these sayings about grieving? There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Grief lasts about a year. You can only grieve a death. Time heals all wounds. Children grieve the same way as adults.

It turns out these sayings aren’t exactly true. There’s a big difference between how we want grief to work out and how it actually does. That’s because grief comes in all sorts of ways, because every one of us is unique and grieves in our own way.

Fortunately for all of northeast Oklahoma, Tulsa’s Tristesse Grief Center is a top-notch counseling center that understands those needs.

Since October 2002, the Tristesse Grief Center has served thousands of individuals in desperate need of help traveling the long, winding road of grief. Regardless of age, loss or financial situation, they are prepared to help.

“Anything that you could lose, you can grieve,” says Carolyn Yoder, the community relations director for the center. “If you have loved something, and it’s no longer in your life, that’s grief, and that’s what we’re here for.”

Every year, roughly 5,000 people die in Tulsa County. Experts say that for every one of those deaths, an average of six people are left behind, grieving and struggling to understand. Sadly, that means every year, 30,000 people in Tulsa begin to experience grief.

One of the biggest messages the Grief Center tries to communicate to anyone out there may be going through a time of grief, says Yoder, is that you never have to do it alone.

“Wherever you are in your grief journey, we can meet you,” says Yoder. “If you want individual counseling to, kind of, tell your story, we’ve got that. If you want to jump right into a group, we have that. If you want to come just once, you can do that. Or, if you need to come for years, that’s OK. It doesn’t matter. We’re here.”

Yoder says that the center is able to meet anyone where they are, whether the loss occurred last week or last year. Even if it was 20 years ago, they are there to provide counseling and a host of programs that can meet the all-important need to experience grief in the healthiest way possible.

Countless Tulsans who have used the Grief Center’s services through the years have nothing but praise for the services they provide. One testimonial about the tremendous impact the Grief Center makes comes from Stacie. When she was working as a therapist, she would recommend the Grief Center to clients. She says she never thought she would need the services herself. However, when her daughter died, she thought she could use some of the tools that she had used herself as a therapist.

“I was wrong,” says Stacie. “I needed something else. I remembered the Grief Center and called and made an appointment. I can’t say enough about not only my therapist but about the center in general. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is needing grief counseling.”

Sunny, another participant in the Grief Center’s services, says it provided comfort when she and her family really needed it. “They are incredible!” Sunny says. “The help they have given me and my children is immense. To know that my children have a guiding light through what I hope is the hardest time in their lives gives me immeasurable peace.”

Camp Erin, an annual summer event that the Tristesse Grief Center offers for children who are experiencing grief, is one of the many programs the center offers that makes a special difference.

“It’s super important for these kids to have a connection with somebody that has experienced their kind of loss,” Yoder says.

Every summer, counselors of the Grief Center attest to the fact that one week at Camp Erin, for many of the children who attend, is more impactful than an entire year of one-on-one counseling because children tend to see themselves as on their own in their grief. Camp Erin provides a special kind of hope for children who grieve to show them that they are not alone during this difficult time.

“Those kids who have experienced father loss, for example. To watch them connect with others who have gone through the same thing,” says Yoder, “it’s a powerful thing.”

For any of us who have experienced grief and feel that we have managed to move forward in a healthy fashion, volunteering at the Grieving Center is an additional way to use a terribly tough time in our lives and create something positive. Even if you know you still have important things to work through, but are ready to give back, there are ways to care for the community through volunteering at the center. These include fundraising, special events, grief workshops, maintenance, information technology, receptionist, camp activities and other event duties.

The Tristesse Grief Center offers individual counseling services for those age 4 and up, as well as group counseling sessions for those who have suffered various losses such as pregnancy and infant loss, child loss at various ages, spousal and partner loss, survivors of suicide loss, and many others. Payment for sessions are offered on an income-based sliding scale and scholarship opportunities are also available. Every session is meant to promote healthy ways of expressing grief and coping skills for those of us who are experiencing loss and need help.  

Tristesse Grief Center
2502 E. 71st St. | Tulsa

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