Aspen event to honor lost loved ones, ease grief
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When: 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 18
Where: Paepcke Audtorium
Cost: Free to all
The Roaring Fork Valley has seen numerous untimely deaths over the years, and it’s fair to say probably too many to count.
On Saturday, Pathfinders will play host to Foreverlove, a free event organizers intend to provide hope to family and friends of lost loved ones who died prematurely. It takes place from 3 to 7 p.m. at Paepcke Auditorium on the Aspen Institute campus, with classes from 3 to 5 p.m. The closing ceremony begins at 5:15 p.m.
Organizers are encouraging early registration at http://www.pathfindersforcancer.org, but same-day sign-ups will be held at Paepcke.
“It’s endless in the community,” said Elizabeth Miller, a counselor with Pathfinders, noting that Aspen has the highest suicide rate in Colorado.
The event isn’t just geared toward suicide.
“They could have died of cancer, infant death, whatever else,” said Snowmass resident Alyssa Shenk Genshaft, whose 17-month-old son Max passed away in his sleep Jan. 18, 2013.
Shenk Genshaft is among the organizers of the event, which also is supported by HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley, Aspen Hope Center, Core Healing Arts, Mindsprings Health, Aspen Strong Foundation and Shakti Shala Aspen.
Miller and Shenk Genshaft said the subject might be somber, but it’s not about gloom and doom.
“We’re really excited and hope people will come and take something positive away from this,” she said.
Working out grief is vital to moving on, Miller said.
“If you don’t deal with your grief, it’s going to come out somewhere down the road,” she said.
Miller said the plan came together a couple of month ago. Numerous local residents have lost close friends and relatives, but when the funeral, memorial services and wakes end, they are left to themselves. Foreverlove will aim to ease the grief, she and Shenk Genshaft said.
“We’ve never really done anything like this in our community,” Miller said. “But because we’ve had so much loss, a lot of other agencies have talked about this. We felt like the timing was right to bring the community this kind of forum with the intention of bringing people out of isolation.”
Shenk Genshaft said, “We hope people come away feeling a little bit lighter and a little bit hopeful. It’s the message of hope; bad things do happen, but life can continue on.”
There are no age restrictions for attendance. Groups will be arranged for children younger than 12 and youth older than 12.
Younger children will have the choice of making memory boxes, which they decorate in memory of a person, or a strong box to be used when they’re having a hard time.
“The ideas of the boxes is that they can always turn to the box to help them,” Miller said.
Older children and teens will have writing exercises regarding grief and emotion. A therapist will guide them. Art therapy also will be on tap for children and teens.
Yoga and mediations will be offered to adults. And participants also will have the opportunity to make bags honoring their loved ones.
“Some people might think ‘yoga and mediation, I’m not that kind of person,’ but they can try something new,” Shenk Genshaft said. “In order to be introspective, you have to do those things.”
Activities will include a silent meditation with Candice Oksenhorn, yoga by Shakti Shala, moving meditation with Robyn Hubbard, letters of love writing with Lori Kret and Jennifer Bouchet, a children’s art class with Fiona Bergeron and teen letter writing with Heather Kaplinski.
The event’s agenda is as follows:
• Opening song, “Those Who Sow,” Cantor Rollin Simmons
• Welcome, Elizabeth Miller and Allison Daily
• The Memory Tree, Alyssa Shenk Genshaft
• Music, “I Am Here,” Cantor Simmons
• Music, Dan Sheridan
• Reflections, Nicholas Vesey of Aspen Chapel
• Time of honoring, booklets and music
• Guided meditation with gong, Robyn Hubbard and Himat Dayvault
• Closing song, “Those Who Sow,” Cantor Simmons
• Closing comments, Art Daily
“We’re a community that comes together and helps each other, and we’re a generous community, and we have so many positive things,” Miller said. “That’s where this comes from.”
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