Couple GrievingThe holidays are over, and this time of year can be very difficult for those who are experiencing loss-the loss of friends, family members, pets and even physical health. They may be experiencing an emotional rollercoaster with feelings of sadness, loneliness, emptiness and anxiety.

Grief is a normal, highly personal response to loss. Some may feel sad and experience signs of grieving without knowing it; some may be ashamed or unwilling to tell others how they are feeling. Pam Vandernagel, an LCSW and licensed oncology therapist at Eisenhower Medical Center emphasizes that time alone is not enough to heal the pain, it is very important to have support during the grieving process. While healing requires our taking responsibility for moving through our own pain, we also need others to complete the process.1

Grief never ends, but it is considered to be managed when the individual has found some resolution or meaning.2 Loss leaves one with having to discover a new way of living without that person, and perhaps some guilt about still being here.1

What can a person do to help themselves through their grieving? Vandernagel suggests grief work such as writing letters, talking to the loved one, gathering pictures and memories, and allowing time to cry.

How can one help a friend or loved one who is grieving? Give the person time to become aware of their feelings and to express them. Spend time with the person, and listen to their stories. Talk about the loss and encourage them to discuss their feelings and memories.  Help them discover the barriers that are holding them back from going forward. Encourage them to find something positive in their daily life. Having hope and a positive attitude help to open the endorphins in the brain and allows the immune system to work more efficiently.

Assist those grieving by recommending resources to help them give voice to their emotions, such as grief support groups and individual therapists. Fortunately, we have many resources in the Coachella Valley for those seeking help. Grief support groups are offered at Eisenhower Medical Center (760-674-3618), Desert Regional Medical Center (760-323-6511), and Serenity Hospice (760-325-8718) to name a few.

Help is available for those who are grieving; however, the gift of friendship is one of the best ways to help a person who is experiencing the pain of loss.

Contact Pam Vandernagel at 760-674-3618 (Monday through Thursday) for additional information on bereavement support groups.

References: 1) Draeger, Bonnie E., When Cancer Strikes a Friend, (New York, Skyhorse Publishing, 2012) 163. 2) Ellor, Rev. James W.,”Grief’s Journey,” Aging Well, 2, (March/April): 42

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Comments (6)

  • I was March of Dimes poster child at age 8 and lost my father to suicide and was widowed at age 21 when my Marine helicopter pilot was shot down in Viet Nam. I have lost grandchildren and children and after losing my parents I was in a deep depression. A friend introduced me to ceramic art. It was healing and filled a void in ways hard to describe.
    This coincided with giving up alcohol in my life and I discovered art to be healing and rewarding.
    There were no ceramic or glass opportunities in the valley and this is the reason I started Old Town Artisan Studio in 2009.
    With the new Mobile Art Program it would be wonderful to serve Eisenhower patients and families who could discover art the way I have. I would love to introduce this opportuntiy and outreach to Betty Ford center and others this fall.
    Thank you all for the outreach you provide and if we can offer a supportive tool we would be like to discuss this opportunity when possible . Victory Grund 360-632-2458 http://www.oldto

    • Lauren Del Sarto, Publisher

      Victory, please feel free to call Pam Vandernagel at 760-674-3618 (Monday through Thursday) to introduce the opportunity.

      Thank you for reading Desert Health ~


  • My son passed away July 9th 2020
    Am looking for a support group

    • Lauren E Del Sarto


      I am so sorry for your loss. This article above has many resources with phone numbers. We hope you find it helpful.



  • Shelley Orr-krause

    When is the grief support offered at Eisenhower medical centre?
    I’m wondering for my brother who just lost his wife Sept 3 in La Quina

  • Lauren Del Sarto

    Thank you for reading, Shelley ~ Please call them for schedules. Here are the resources mentioned once again:
    Eisenhower Medical Center (760-674-3618), Desert Regional Medical Center (760-323-6511), and Serenity Hospice (760-325-8718).

    Also, Glendon Gieke also offers grieving support groups. He can be reached here: [email protected]

    With appreciation ~
    Lauren Del Sarto


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