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Finding Hope in Loss: The Respite

By Vanessa Nason

Having lost first a son at birth and then less than two years later, at the age of 27, a husband who had been serving in Afghanistan - Elizabeth Berrien knows the perils of grief. She knows how deeply it can resonate; how strongly it can ache. But, perhaps most importantly, she knows how essential a support system can be. So began her work with The Respite in Charlotte, NC.

"I felt called to become a co-founder of The Respite in order to help others who have gone through difficult losses and life transitions," says Berrien, who is also the grief management center's director of marketing and development. "I know how much having ongoing support helped me get through the trenches, especially during the first couple of years. It's important for someone going through a difficult time to not feel isolated on their journey, and I knew a space could be created where people felt safe and empowered on their healing path," she explains.

The Respite serves women going through a loss, which can include death, the end of a relationship, loss of a job, health issues, aging, or a life transition. The Respite's philosophy for healing is based around their "Model of Heart-Centered Grief," which Berrien explains as a "seven-step process to empower your journey from loss to hope." To accomplish this, patients can choose to attend support groups, counseling services, workshops, and an online program. Their center prides itself on being known for being comfortable and inviting. "We wanted to create a space where people instantly felt warm at home when they walk through the doors," says Berrien. In addition, the center recently launched a program allowing people to receive support from their own homes. By utilizing personal Coaching Sessions with Mandy Eppley, a licensed professional counselor, as well as monthly Creative Tools, Guided Meditations, Monthly Affirmations, and interviews with a variety of health professionals, patients can receive a wide range of helpful support without having to travel to a center.

Berrien believes, too, that The Respite has been healing for herself as well, giving her a sense of purpose in helping others. She urges people to refer women struggling with a loss to The Respite. "Sharing about us and accessing us as a resource can truly gift someone who is struggling, feeling lost, or doesn't' know where to turn for help," she says. "We want to help women to lead a life of fulfillment, hope and happiness."

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About The Author

Vanessa Nason is a fourth year journalism major at Northeastern University. She's...

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