PUNXSUTAWNEY — The grieving process is certainly one that can carry on for many years after the loss of a loved one.
It never really, completely goes away, but through the healing power in the process, one can seek comfort in knowing he or she is not alone.
One local woman, Chris Gigliotti, has learned the healing power of grief. In 2009, she suffered the tragic loss of her beloved son, Adam Travis.
Gigliotti said that after his death, she spent a lot of time struggling and searching for "something" to help her deal with that loss.
After her son's death, Gigliotti and her husband traveled to Minnesota, where they attended a workshop with guest speaker Mitch Carmody. They then traveled to a workshop in Florida, conducted by Alan Pedersen.
"It was very helpful to me, because I didn't know where to turn," said Gigliotti, adding that the workshops discussed proactive
"Last October, our community was fortunate to have Alan Pedersen present his acclaimed program, Angels Across the U.S.A.," she said.
Both Pedersen and Carmody are nationally recognized speakers, writers and presenters.
They have presented hundreds of programs throughout the United States and Canada.
Both have been keynote speakers and presenters at conferences such as Bereaved Parents of the USA, Compassionate Friends and International Gathering on Bereavement.
"When I decided to organize last year's event, I was hoping to have 30 to 40 people show up, but ended up with over 100 people," said Gigliotti.
Because of the overwhelming attendance and positive feedback, Gigliotti decided to bring the program back this year.
On Sept. 21, Pedersen will be returning to Punxsutawney to conduct a daylong workshop on proactive grieving.
Pedersen will be joined by Carmody, a recognized
"It helps with the grieving process," said Gigliotti.
It was while attending these workshops that she found herself thinking about how to help others in her community who were grieving.
"I saw how helpful these programs are, and I wanted to bring them to Punxsutawney, so people wouldn't have to travel to another state," she said.
Gigliotti said that most of the organizations across the country have to charge to provide this event, and the cost ranges anywhere from $25 to $50 per person.
"I have been so lucky to have such great community support that I was able to raise enough money to be able to offer this at no cost to the individuals," said Gigliotti.
She was able to get donations from both the Punxsutawney and Sykesville Fraternal Order of Eagles clubs, the Kiwanis Club and a lot of donations from the family of the late Trevor Stiner.
Gigliotti said that with all of the donations, she has been able to provide the workshop for free to those wishing to attending. Brenda Shumaker will be helping out with lunch.
"Using their original music and art coupled with humor and provocative dialogue, Mitch and Alan have created a unique day that includes four sessions," said Gigliotti.
The sessions will be as follows:
• Session 1 — The Grief Journey — Pedersen plays original songs and shares his insights on the grief journey in this presentation aimed at remembering and celebrating the lives of loved ones.
• Session 2 — Pro-active Grieving — Carmody presents this informative and inspirational workshop on turning loss into legacy. He has created and will share a new grief model (S.T.A.I.R.S.), which he believes more accurately depicts the grief journey.
• Session 3 — Healing, Guilt and Regret — Pedersen's powerful look at the unfinished emotional business that often accompanies grief. He will share ideas and practical steps that can be taken to help resolve guilt and regret.
• Session 4 — Whispers of Love — Carmody's popular presentation on "signs" from loved ones. This workshop is standing room only, and one of the most popular and well-attended at grief conferences around the country.
Gigliotti said that another thing she is looking forward to is seeing Pedersen's van.
"After last year’s tour, Alan had his van wrapped, and anyone who sponsors his ministry in memory of their loved ones gets a butterfly on the van," Gigliotti said, adding that she put a butterfly on the van in memory of her son. "Alan travels all over the country, showing off the van wherever he goes."
Gigliotti said that she realizes some people might think, “Why would you want to go to something like this and keep rehashing all those hurtful feelings?”
"We never stop loving or missing our loved ones. I think when it comes to learning to live with our grief, knowledge truly is power; not only the knowledge we will receive from these two experienced, very compassionate men, but also the knowledge we can share with each other," said Gigliotti.
"There are things that we can learn to help us incorporate the love, memories, and even the pain into our daily lives."
Those interested in attending should contact Gigliotti at (814) 952-2100.