Help for Battlefords families dealing with traumatic loss

By Angela Brown
November 24, 2017 - 5:00pm

Battlefords area families struggling with the loss of a loved one who has gone missing or dies suddenly in a traumatic way, will have an opportunity to find some support in an upcoming workshop.

The Trauma and Ambiguous Loss workshop will be available for families, and a separate workshop will be available for professionals.

“When we talk about traumatic loss - it could be a suicide, it could be a murder, or a sudden death,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre wellness program director Jose Pruden. “The workshop is about looking at how people process a traumatic or ambiguous loss."

She said an ambiguous loss could result when a family member is missing and has never been found.

"That kind of loss is very different from everyday losing somebody to a health issue," said Pruden. 

She said the workshop for professionals in particular helps front-line workers understand what people are going through when they are dealing with this type of a loss. 

Pruden said the idea for the workshop project came out of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women National Inquiry.

“Typically that's the kind of loss we’re talking about," she said. 

"We don’t know the exact numbers. I do know in some of our First Nation communities, there have been women who have gone missing, and other family members, not just women," she said. "We've had a lot of different kinds of loss that have been very traumatic. I think this will be great for our community members to be able to start understanding their grieving process, and what's been going on for them."

Pruden said the national inquiry is bringing more attention to the issue.

"It's in the news, and I think people are feeling like they need support," she said. "So it's very timely. We are bringing this information to the community."

A large group of organizations partnered on providing the workshops in North Battleford, including Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre, the two local school divisions, Victims Services, Prairie North Health Region, and the City of North Battleford, among others.

Guest speaker Duane Bowers, a professional counsellor and educator from Washington, D.C., will be giving a presentation during the workshops.

Pruden said Bowers is known across North America for his presentations on traumatic loss.  

"He is going to be spending the day talking about what that kind of loss is, what the effect is on the body, and the brain, how you work and approach people, and how you can help support them through this kind of loss," said Pruden.

"He's well respected. He has done a lot of work after [the] 9/11 [attacks] in the States around trauma," she added.

Pruden said Bowers works a lot with families who are dealing with loved ones who have been abducted or are missing, as well as with families who have had murdered children.

"He has a wealth of experience in the area of trauma," she said.

Mental health counsellors and Elders will also be available at the workshop to provide emotional support. Families can also bring their own support person with them.

The workshop for families will take place Dec. 13, while the one for professionals will be Dec. 12.

Both workshops will be held at Light of Christ Learning Centre in North Battleford from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

People planning to attend must book in advance by contacting Catholic Family Services of the Battlefords by Dec. 4.   


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