Rediscover Your Inner Strength: Moving Through Grief, Trauma and Loss
It’s inevitable that there will come a time in our lives where we will stand face to face with grief, whether it be from the loss of a loved one or from the residual effects of past traumas making their way back to the surface. Whatever the cause, the most challenging task is learning how to work through it while trying to maintain some form of normalcy in day-to-day life. That is until we reach that point where we begin to ask ourselves, “Can I move through this?”
For Paul Matteson, the answer is an astounding, yes! While training to become a workshop facilitator at the renowned Elisabeth KublerRoss Center in Virginia, Paul was compelled to bring the work of Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief to Maine by co-creating Edgebrook, a non-profit organization which offers, “Moving Through Grief and Loss Workshops” in Alfred, Maine (Spring) and Durham, North Carolina (Fall). “Issues from my past which involved major loss and childhood trauma, led me to the Kubler-Ross workshops and a way of working that was profoundly healing for me,” Paul explained.
A practicing psychotherapist with more than 25 years of experience, Paul is no stranger to working with those suffering with trauma and grief. In 1992, when encouraged to attend the Kubler-Ross 5-day Life, Death and Transition workshop, Paul recalls the eye-opening experience that later inspired the foundations of Edgebrook. “I had the opportunity to see how people really feel, people who have lost family, friends, relationships, and people who had suffered from all forms of abuse. This workshop that Elisabeth designed worked for so many personal issues and it was an organic, natural process, it made sense,” Paul said.
Providing those who attend an opportunity to speak their truth in a safe and confidential setting, the five facilitators of Edgebrook provide a sacred space that allows 15-22 participants to, “do the work of expressing deep feelings.” Although grief is a natural part of our existence, we are in a society that encourages us to internalize our emotions, pushing us forward without looking back. Unexpressed emotions often lead to adverse effects such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and shame.
The workshop encourages creative, physical and emotional participation more so than typical conventional talk therapy. It respectfully provides time and opportunity to work through painful life issues. “The externalization workshop is soulful work and relies heavily on in-the-moment presence and intuition,” Paul said. “It draws strength from community and relationships; it recognizes that grief is emotional and needs expression and time. Often, people feel stuck, the workshop helps them get unstuck.”
Expressing stuffed feelings and working on one’s unfinished business in a non-judgmental, supportive environment is Edgebrook’s leading mission. Providing a space that promotes healing met with unconditional love, the facilitators welcome those who are ready to move through their grief. “The participants often find that this work helps them move forward in their lives and assists them in any ongoing therapy,” Paul said. “For many, it is the first big step in recovering from old, deep-seated wounds, as well as from current traumas and loss. Underlying this process is a belief in unconditional love and acceptance.” The next workshop will be held on April 4-8, 2019 at the Notre Dame Spiritual Center in Alfred.
Adapted from an article by Debjani Das. Paul Matteson, MS.Ed., is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor with a private practice on Forest Avenue in Portland. In addition to his practice and leading the Edgebrook workshops, he facilitates support groups for men who have been sexually abused. These groups are free and sponsored by the Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. Paul can be contacted at: 207-753-0135 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org