At the age of 14, Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s best friend died of leukemia.


   At the age of 14, Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s best friend died of leukemia.
    He said at the time, people disenfranchised his grief. His grandmothers also died when he was 14.
    “That kind of helped me discover my calling,” he said. “Your greatest gifts come from your greatest wounds, and you teach what you know.”
    Wolfelt will be giving three presentations on grief and loss at the Dodge City Senior Center May 5 and 6.
    The first program is open to the public and will be from 7 to 9 p.m. May 5. There is no registration fee.
    It’s about integrating loss into your life, rather than trying to go around it.
    “The sad fact is that people try to go around grief, rather than through,” he said. “People are at risk of being their own worst enemy. That’s not going to bring them back to feel sadness or hurt, but we’ve discovered that you have to integrate them into your life. We don’t want to take it away. We want to acknowledge it. You need to give honor for the need to mourn.”
    He said modern America has misplaced its understanding of grief.
    “We’ve lost an understanding of the role of hurt and suffering. We think we have some God-given right to not have it,” Wolfelt said. “We used to have mourning clothes to identify people and give honor. Now we can’t identify who is bereaved.”
    Basically, integrating grief helps bereaved people reconcile and go on living even though they’ve experienced a serious loss that has affected them, he said.
    But by not facing grief and integrating it into your life, a bereaved person could end up being dead while alive.
    “If you don’t do your own mourning, you’ll try to fix people instead of creating a space for others to do their own work,” he said.
    The other two presentations will be more specific and focus on subtopics of grief.
    The first one is a morning session from 9 a.m. to noon May 6. This workshop is for anyone who wants to know more about supporting people during a time of grief or loss and is especially pertinent to members of the religious community.
    There is a $30 registration fee, and pre-registration is required.
    Later that same afternoon, there is a workshop from 1 to 3:30 p.m. that explores the adult’s role with children or teenagers experiencing grief.
    “Children and teens are the forgotten mourners,” Wolfelt said. “Any child old enough to love is old enough to mourn. So we’ll be talking about the special needs children have and how to create support systems for them.”
    There is a $25 registration fee, and pre-registration is required.
    To register, contact the Hospice of the Prairie at (620) 227-7209. The deadline for registration is Friday.
    To learn more about Wolfelt and his work, visit www.centerforloss.com.
Reach Mark Reagan at (620) 408-9931 or email him at mark.reagan@dodgeglobe.com.