COAL TOWNSHIP - Mourning the death of a loved one is a stressful time. Whether it is a spouse, child, parent, relative or friend, some may experience a need to share their despair to overcome the grief.

VNA Health System sponsors a Bereavement Support Group at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital every other Tuesday of the month. The group is open to the public and free of charge. Family and friends who have lost a loved one are encouraged to attend.

According to Linda Gula, RN, director of hospice services, there are different stages of the grieving process, and each individual goes through the phases at their own pace.

"Our group provides a non-judgmental environment for individuals to cope after losing a loved one," said Gula. "In group, we support a sharing of experiences. After someone close passes away, those who remain feel alone. In group after hearing someone share an experience or feeling, they realize they are not alone and can relate to the experience. This gives them strength to move forward and insight on how to cope with loss.

"We urge those who are grieving to surround themselves with supportive people, to discuss their grief, and to talk openly about their loved one," added Gula.

The VNA Health System Bereavement Support Group will meet from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital.