Category Archives: Support Groups

Preparing For The Holidays

Preparing For The Holidays: For Those Who Grieve

Holidays can be tough after losing someone, especially during the first year since their passing.  So many adjustments must be made every day; but, as the holidays approach the challenges can be overwhelming.

On Thursday evening, November 10, from 7-9 p.m. we are hosting a seminar at the Church of Christ of St. Joseph entitled “Preparing for the Holidays.” Our purpose is to provide a place and time where we can share stories, tears, and ideas for making it through the tough times ahead.

The seminar is free and open to anyone who grieves.  If you know of someone who may find this time helpful please invite them to come with you so they won’t have to come alone.

The seminar will be led and facilitated by Stephen Pylkas and Russel Hicks, both of whom have experience in leading grief groups and guiding discussion.

A grief support group will be available through the holiday season.  A sign-up sheet will be offered at the seminar.

For more information, to let us know of your interest or for any questions or comments, please fill out the form below and Steve will reply.  Registration is not necessary so you can wait until the last minute to decide.


Stephen “Steve” Pylkas is the minister of the Church of Christ of St. Joseph where he also has his private practice (Southshore Counseling, LLC) as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.



Since losing his wife, Carol Jean Hicks, to cancer in 2008, Russell Hicks has led grief groups at Lori’s Place for several years.


Grief Support Groups

Grief support groups are not for everyone because we are all unique and different.  How we handle our losses–from the least to the unbearable–is also unique to us.  One solution does not fit all and no one knows what you need better than you do.

But sometimes it helps to be a part of a support group because it helps to hear about how others have dealt with their loss.  It is also nice to be in a place where what you have to say about your loss is not judged, criticized or evaluated by someone else’s standards or experience.  A place where you can share your story.  A place where you can benefit from hearing the stories of others.  A place where you can release your pain among people who assure you that this is ok, it is part of the process and they actually commend you for working through the pain instead of going around it to avoid suffering.

Each session began with everyone telling their story because of its critical part of the healing process.  It may be early in the grief experience or it may take time to work up the composure to speak of your loss.  A couple of critical ideas might help.  First, your grief is uniquely yours.  No one knows exactly how you feel or what exactly what you must do to move to a point of acceptance and resolve to move forward.  Only you can know the answers to those questions and this will come only as you work through your own transitions, make mental notes and progress at your pace.

Second, go easy on your comforters.  They mean well but they don’t always say things that are comforting.  In fact, sometimes their comments can make you downright angry if you dwell on them too long.  “God must have needed him more than you did,” is just one of those horrible examples of well-intentioned but painful comments.  God does not need anyone or anything.  Plus, God is all throughout creation and to realms unknown to us.  Whether we are with him on earth or on the other sides of the pearly gates…He will not leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)…ever.

Out goal is to give everyone an opportunity to share their story among a group of people who will simply listen.  At the outset we will go over some basic instructions about how we can be most helpful and not hurtful to each other.  During this time we want to stress the need for a safe place where it is ok to be yourself and to be honest.  Here is a copy of our handout for you to review beforehand.

Grief Support Group

Caring Guidelines

The support group provides opportunities for hurting people to come together to share, to listen, to learn and to care.  Here are some guidelines to help make this a safe time and place for everyone.

1. Confidential – What is said here stays here.

2. Non-Judgmental – This is not a place for being critical or judgmental.  It is a safe-haven.

3. Advice Free – Advice is only given when requested.  We receive plenty of advice from others.

4. No Pressure – While support groups value talking through feelings, it is ok to be quiet.  No one will be ‘forced’ to talk if they do not wish to do so.

5. Listening Zone – When one person is talking everyone else is listening.  We do not engage in other conversations at the same time.  Cell phones are off.  There is no texting during this time.

6. Time Aware – We will begin on time and end on time.  Conversations may continue afterwards but the group will be dismissed on time.

7. Time Considerate – We are conscious of the time we need to talk and the energy others expend to listen.  We respect the rights of others to have time to speak.

Stephen P. Pylkas, MTh, LMFT

Southshore Counseling, LLC – 734-658-7649

Workshops: Spiritual gifts, talents, passion

Genesis Groups

Recovery and Support Groups for grieving people. Groups may form around specific challenges such as death of a loved one, divorce or other necessary losses. They usually meet weekly at a mutually acceptable time and location over 8 to 12 weeks. These groups can meet in churches or other public locations to be most convenient to participants. Workshops are usually one-time events that address the human grief experience across a broad range of experiences.


The key to communication is the ability to listen with the desire to understand before being understood. This workshop is designed for leaders, marriages, parenting and other relationships. Especially in the area of conflict resolution the skills learned in this workshop can be especially helpful as they generalize to the workplace and other interpersonal relationships.

Discovering Your Gifts

Through the use of various personality assessment tools this workshop helps people find their own natural and spiritual gifts so that they can be about the works of service with the abilities God has gifted them with to build up the body of Christ. Discovering your gifts helps you learn more about yourself, more about those around you and how those with different gifts and work together to bring about the synergy that makes the whole of relationships greater than the sum of its people.

Before You Tie The Knot…

We spend so much on weddings! What might happen if a percentage of those funds were spent on the preparation for marriage? Granted, some may decide that they are not compatible; but, most will find that they have a head start for addressing the challenges and opportunities that always arise early in our married lives. Usually offered in the spring, this workshop offers a battery of personality tests and exercises that are fun and challenging as you prepare to spend your lives together.

With advanced notice various speakers take the time to address such issues as What the Bible Says, Controlling Your Finances, How to Protect Yourself and Your Home, Investing For Tomorrow Today, and many more. What a wonderful wedding gift to young couples from those who know what is ahead for them.