It’s a truth that those who have been through hardships are better able to take the hands of others and lead them through hardships of their own. Perhaps that is a positive side effect of sadness and heartbreak.
Grief is one of those hardships and the process of making one’s way through the grief of losing a loved one is difficult. One Pleasant Grove woman, who is no stranger to grief, wants to help people who are dealing with similar thoughts, emotions and struggles as she is.
Leanne Tressler’s husband died five years ago and her 16-year-old son, oldest of seven children, died three and one-half years later, both by suicide. Tressler has written about her experiences with grief on social media in an effort to help others.
“Don’t grieve alone. Don’t hurt alone. Don’t keep your story quiet. Don’t rob others of your experiences,” wrote Tressler on a Facebook post on March 6. “I strongly feel pulled to get people together, to create a safe place for people to find healing balm for their soul.”
Before the pandemic hit, Tressler invited others who were grieving to come together to have a place to talk.
“I had such good feedback and those people kept messaging me, asking me to do it again,” she said.
“I have people that continually reach out to me on Facebook, asking if I know about support groups or resources. Right now, it’s hard to find any groups. Many groups aren’t being held anymore,” Tressler said. “I thought, ‘Maybe I should try to do one myself.’ ”
That’s how the plans for “Grieve in the Light” were born. The event will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Stonegate Events, 886 W. 2600 North, Pleasant Grove.
Therapist Steve Eastmond will be speaking about doing grief right. After that, people will be invited to talk to each other, something that is essential in the healing process.
Tressler is asking that everyone who comes bring a 2.5-inch x 3.4-inch picture of their loved one or loved ones who passed away. These will help to break down some barriers and get people talking.
While she’s not an event planner or a professional therapist, she wants to help others.
“I’m just a girl who has been through stuff. I found in my journey that the thing that was the most powerful to me was to be with other people just like me,” Tressler said.
“I need to bring other people into the room together. There is a weight taken off of you when you’re with people who have been through similar things. There’s just a lot of power in, ‘I’ve been there too,’ ” Tressler said. “People will look around and say, ‘OK. I’m not alone.’ ”
Tressler said that it’s difficult to explain the heaviness of grief to others who haven’t experienced it.
“There are no words in our language that describe how it feels,” she said. “The more crap you go through, the less you feel like you can relate to the population. With some of these things, the only place I have found refuge for healing is with people who fight the same fight.”
Some people, especially when their losses are recent, are still so far into their grief that they may not be sure if they are strong enough to talk about it yet. That’s OK, according to Tressler.
“Grief is a process and there is a time when you’re internalizing and processing and dealing. But, I think the real healing doesn’t come unless you speak about it,” she said.
While people can show up at the door, it is best to sign up ahead of time to ensure there is space for everyone. The event is open to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one, no matter how the loved one died. There is a $5 fee to cover the cost of the venue. However, if people are unable to pay, they are still welcome. For more information and to sign up, go to ShadowLightEvents.com or the “Grieve in the Light” event page on Facebook.
“If you’re scared, you don’t need to say anything,” Tressler said. “Just come.”