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Catholic Charities offers counseling for loss, grief

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

CARROLL – Throughout life people experience different forms of loss and deal with their grief in many ways.

Catholic Charities offers counseling for loss and grief in all of its offices. According to Doreen Loeffelholz, clinical supervisor at the Carroll office, some forms of loss include death, loss of a job, moving or relocating, infertility or difficulty conceiving, the impact of health issues, loss of a relationship, etc. Most losses are something that disrupts life.

“It is amazing the number of people we assist who experience loss in their lives to some extent,” she said. “We generally are most successful in helping people learn about the stages of grief and how to manage moving through that process to being able to ultimately move forward.”

Stages of grief
Typically, the stages of grief that someone goes through are denial/avoidance, anger, bargaining, sadness (depression) and resolution/acceptance.

The extent or length of counseling depends on the loss someone has experienced and how they deal with it.

“Elizabeth Kubler Ross has written numerous books on the subject. She is considered an expert on the subject,” said Loeffelholz. “She basically says the grieving process can take anywhere from two to seven years. That really depends on the significance and the severity of the loss.”

Some people may have progressed through a few stages of grief over the course of a loved one’s illness or before they seek counseling.

Loeffelholz used the example of someone who lost a job and has since started a new job, but this person still struggles with the loss of the previous job.

Affect on life
When people are grieving, it impacts how they function and affects their whole life – health, sleep, jobs, relationships, etc.

“When people are struggling with a loss and it is impacting their sleep, then physically that can take a toll,” said Loeffelholz. “We might encourage someone to consult with their physician. They may need a sleep aid to help them for a period of time until they are able to sleep reasonably on their own.”

She said that trying to function on poor sleep, days and weeks, has an effect on overall functioning. This can cause a difference in their jobs or how they relate to other people.

“What we seek to do is help people become healthier, physically and emotionally, and to resolve their grief issues,” said the clinical supervisor. “We look to be there for people.”

Anyone can request counseling services at Catholic Charities. Loeffelholz said that as long as the counselors in their office have the expertise to deal with an issue, they will help the client. If there is a component present that they don’t have expertise in, they will refer the client to the appropriate professional.

“We are not discriminatory in the services that we provide. People don’t have to be Catholic to come here,” said Loeffelholz.

Storm Lake office
Grief and loss among many other types of counseling are offered at the Catholic Charities offices throughout the diocese.

The Storm Lake office is staffed by Loeffelholz on Wednesdays from noon until late afternoon or early evening. To schedule an appointment the other days of the week, clients are asked to call the Carroll office.

“Considering I am only there one day a week, the case load is pretty steady. Of course it fluctuates depending on the week,” said Loeffelholz. “Typically, I will have three to four appointments in a day. We do service some Hispanic clients. I did have a translator assisting me, but for most of my clients their English is reasonable that we can manage.”

As in all offices, referrals come from various sources such as a pastor, a school, a family member, another agency, attorneys or a doctor’s office.

The Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors allows Catholic Charities to use county space in one of their buildings in Storm Lake. Loeffelholz shares an office while she is there.

“It is very gracious of them to allow us that office space. Since about 1976 there has been an office in Storm Lake one day a week,” she said. “We are very appreciative of BV County for allowing us the space because it makes a difference to have the office up there.”

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