By Sheryl Nix, Alaska Post ContributorAugust 11, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Loss is one of those universal concepts that everyone seems to experience at some point in life. It can take many forms and according to Chaplain (Maj.) Dwight Broedel, Fort Wainwright’s Family Life chaplain and acting garrison chaplain, members of the Fort Wainwright community are not alone in their grief.
“A lot of the folks I deal with are in one way or another dealing with grief,” he explained. “As soon as you say the word ‘grief’ most people think of the loss of a loved one, which is bereavement, but the reality is that the older you get the more you lose, and anytime you lose something you love you go through grief.”
Examples of other types of losses can include losing friends to PCS moves, job opportunities, pets and health. Empty nest syndrome when parents adjust to new lives without their children living at home is a form of grief. Deployments with husbands and wives coming and going also create loss for many families, he said.
Broedel has teamed up with the Survivor Outreach Services program to offer hope to those in the Fort Wainwright community dealing with loss through a dinner and seminar entitled “Good Grief: A roadmap through a painful process,” Aug. 26, 6 to 8 p.m. at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks.
Broedel has worked with the SOS program since its inception here and said he collaborated with Michelle Benjamin, SOS program coordinator, to create the seminar to shine light on a very big issue in the Fort Wainwright community.
“A lot of times people say they feel so alone like they are the only ones going through this,” he said. “They question whether they’re crazy and why they feel happy one minute and then sad the next. They think they should be over it already. The truth is that it’s normal. So how do we help people understand what normal looks like? The first step is awareness. Where are you in the process because everyone is somewhere in the process, including denial.”
Thanks to a special grant from the chief of chaplains, the seminar will feature a dinner plus instructional and inspirational speakers free of charge to participants. There will also be a companion program for children.
“Children go through this, too,” Broedel said. “While the adults are going through their seminar we’re going to have a parallel program focusing on kids with age-appropriate programming that deals with grief.”
Priority was given to members of the SOS program who have experienced the loss of a military member, but registration is currently open to all military Families who have experienced loss. Seminar space and childcare slots are limited and advanced registration is required.
“I think this will be a great opportunity for all who have experienced a loss to come out and find out how to get through a very painful process,” Benjamin said.
For more information about the SOS program or to register for the “Good Grief” seminar, call 353-4004.