Lake Minnetonka Shores to host anticipatory grief support series

By Nicole Brodzik
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Chaplin Gary Mueller (right) and Lake Minnetonka Shores Caregiver Support Facilitator Sue Wagener (left) have teamed up to provide support for caregivers through their anticipatory grief series. (Nicole Brodzik/ The Laker)
Chaplin Gary Mueller (right) and Lake Minnetonka Shores Caregiver Support Facilitator Sue Wagener (left) have teamed up to provide support for caregivers through their anticipatory grief series. (Nicole Brodzik/ The Laker)

Starting this fall, Lake Minnetonka Shores Senior Living Campus in Spring Park, is offering a series on anticipatory grief. It will be led by Optage Hospice Chaplain Gary Mueller.

The process of caregiving for others frequently involves experiencing a wide range of losses that bring on the emotional reaction we call grief. When the losses occur while caregiving for a terminally ill or life-threatened person, it’s called anticipatory grief.

While many caregivers experience anticipatory grief, most do not know how to respond to these feelings. What is happening as they are experiencing the feelings of anticipatory grief, is they begin the journey of anticipatory mourning.

The goal of anticipatory grief series is to help caregivers recognize their grief, to understand why they are feeling grief and how they will choose to respond to their grief. Gary hopes that through educating caregivers about their feelings of grief, they will be better equipped and emotionally prepared for the death of a loved one.

Each session in the series at Lake Minnetonka stands alone as it’s own session, so participants don’t need to be at every session to get something out of the experience.

The first session, which is on Oct. 13, is titled “Understanding the Dynamics of Grief”, which will focus on the question, “Why am I so sad?” and figuring out what grief is and how it affects each person. The second session on Oct. 27 will be “The Timeline of Anticipatory Grief and Mourning” which focuses on why caregiving can be so messy and what to expect overall. Next up, on Nov. 10, Chaplin Gary will go over “Living with Mutually Conflicting Demands of Anticipatory Mourning” where he’ll discuss the issues and give advice on letting go while still holding on to a passing loved one.

The next session will take place on Dec. 8 which will cover who all the players are in the care giving journey followed up a session on looking ahead to what life will look like after a loved one has passed on Dec. 22. To wrap the series up, Chaplin Gary will go over what care giving grief teaches the caregiver about life, love and relationships.

Caregivers who go through the series will learn how to facilitate the best possible days for themselves and their loved one. Although attending this series will not necessarily assure a problem-free journey to the care givers next stage in life, Chaplin Gary said he hopes the knowledge gained will help ease the post-death mourning process of the bereaved.

Chaplin Gary is an ordained minister who became interested in ministering to the needs of grieving residents while serving as a Presbyterian Homes site chaplin. Gary received grief support training at the Center for Grief, Loss and Transition in St. Paul and has done extensive research in the field of grief.

Gary was born in Hastings, Minnesota and graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois, as well as Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He has pastored local churches for 32 years before joining Presbyterian Homes in 2007 and has facilitated many grief support groups since 2008.
Meetings will be held in the Club Room at Lake Minnetonka Shores at 4151 Shoreline Drive, Spring Pak. Meeting time is 2-4 p.m. All are welcome. Contact Sue Wagener, Lake Minnetonka Shores Caregiver Support Facilitator, for more information at 952-471-3920.