Tonawanda News

December 14, 2013

Otto Redanz teaming with Niagara Hospice for special grief seminar

by Mia Summerson
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Mike Goodlander was leaving the gym one day when he ran into a woman he knew to be coping with the loss of her husband. She said to him, “sometimes I wish I could just skip Christmas.”

The holiday season is usually associated with family and friends, said Goodlander, owner of Otto Redanz Funeral Home. He acknowledged the difficulty of spending the season without the people you’re used to having there.

“Grief is a sensitive topic and the side effects, even though the same stages, can be different for each of us,” he said. “This season is a beautiful time of the year, but extremely difficult to face when some of our loved ones are no longer with us.”

In an effort to bring comfort and peace to those who are in mourning, Goodlander has partnered with Niagara Hospice to hold a grief seminar, titled Grief Never Takes a Holiday, at Otto Redanz Funeral Home to help bring comfort to anyone who is having trouble this year.

Over the past couple years, Goodlander says that many families have asked him for support. Recently people have been worried about the holidays and how to get through them. This is why he called Hospice, who he says graciously agreed to do this seminar.

“The experience of grief is difficult throughout the year but it seems like around the holidays everyone is getting excited about joyful holiday things,” said Jennifer Amor, a councilor and the manager of the bereavement department at Hospice. “But for people who are grieving, the holidays make it harder for them, it becomes difficult, we going to talk about the feelings involved and what experiences you can expect to go through.”

Rob Goodlander, Mike’s father who is a chaplain at Hospice, recounted the story of a woman who credits Hospice’s grief support system with her ability to move forward after losing her daughter. 

“Just the other day at the Light-A-Life ceremony I ran into (the mother),” Rob said. “The smile was back on her face and she said ‘We’re doing OK.’ She expressed thanks for the support.”

Mike noted that he understands that many people may not be emotionally ready to attend such an event, and that it still may not be easy for those who do attend.

He says all he wants to do with this event is bring comfort, adding that this seminar is not meant to heal anyone, just that anyone who comes is able to walk away with something.

The goal is for attendees to learn methods for coping and living their lives in the wake of tragedy. Amor, of Hospice, says there are a number of things that can be done to help ease the stress of the season.

“I think the major thing is just to realize you can make a plan for yourself of what you’re going to do,” she said. “Sometimes the anticipation of the season can be worse than the actual holiday. It’s just about taking care of yourself and your family not wearing yourself out and getting through the best you can. It’s ok to give yourself a break, it’s ok to not celebrate the same way this year.”

Amor added that another way the seminar helps is by showing people that the grief they feel is natural and that there are plenty of other people going through it. When people are deep in the holiday spirit, she says, it’s easy to feel isolated when you aren’t.

The seminar will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Otto Redanz Funeral Home located at 2215 Military Road, Niagara Falls.

“It doesn’t even matter how many people come,” Goodlander said. “If one person comes I’ve done my job. I we can help comfort one person that’s all we’re looking for.”