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Funeral home getting to the heart of grief with Valentine’s Day program | TribLIVE.com
South Hills

Funeral home getting to the heart of grief with Valentine’s Day program

Stephanie Hacke
| Thursday, February 7, 2019 10:30 a.m
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The Whitehall House sits in the rear parking lot of the John F. Slater Funeral Home.

The holidays can be tough for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

A holiday dedicated to love can be especially difficult when your special person is gone.

The folks at John F. Slater Funeral Home in Brentwood don’t want anyone dealing with loss or grief to spend Valentine’s Day alone.

They’re hosting “A Luncheon For Your Grieving Heart,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Whitehall House on Brownsville Road, where guests can dine on a free meal surrounded by others going through the same thing. Grief therapist Jan McCarthy will speak.

“It’s a happy day for most people, but for grieving people, maybe it’s not. They’re gathering them together to say, ‘Hey, we care about you,’” McCarthy said. “That’s a day where people could use a little extra support.”

Funeral homes across the nation, including those in the South Hills, offer support to families after death. “Aftercare,” as it’s often referred to, helps people dealing with grief or loss after they’ve laid their loved one to rest.

Service at Jefferson Memorial Cemetery and Crematorium in Pleasant Hills is a three-part process, said Clyde Callicott, director of marketing and community relations.

The first part is “pre-need” to help people plan for death. Second, “at-need” is about “being as nurturing as possible” at the time of loss, Callicott said. Third, it’s the “after-need,” or, “what do we do then?”

Jefferson Memorial provides a monthly series on Facebook, where it gives information on handling issues such as depression and grief.

In April, during its 90th year of service, Jefferson Memorial will launch a five-part series that will include coping with depression and grief, financial needs and how animals can help cope with stress.

Starting in May, a stress relief yoga series is planned for twice a month on the grounds.

At John F. Slater Funeral Home, aftercare includes a variety of programming, including the Valentine’s Day luncheon that is now in its third year, said Chris Crompton, who has worked at the funeral home for 10 years as the outreach and aftercare coordinator.

“Grief is isolating,” Crompton said. “It’s very important (to be there for people after). A lot of people go through the motions that they’re OK. They go to work and do what they would normally do, but it’s nice for them to be able to come to a peer support group and say, ‘You know what? I’m sad.’”

Slater’s offers Morning Coffee support groups from March to June and September to December on the second Thursday of the month at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s Church in Brentwood.

McCarthy has worked with the group for nearly six years.

People come in all stages of grief, recent or ongoing.

Oftentimes, when a person has been grieving for a long time, it helps them to help other grieving people, McCarthy said. She sees that take place in the group.

This year, Slater’s also launched “Grief Talks,” which took place from September to November and will resume in April. The evening talks included everything from the challenges of grief after an overdose to a local artist sharing how photography helped her get through the loss of a loved one.

Each program McCarthy speaks at includes education about the grieving process and support from others who have gone through or are going through it. Those factors combined are the best formula to find hope for healing, she said.

At the Valentine’s Day program, which is co-sponsored by Advanced Homecare, Arden Courts and Bethany Hospice, McCarthy will compare the similarities between the holiday and the process of grieving.

Both, she said, are all about love.


Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.


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