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Bereavement Gatherings and Events

AUTHOR: Jackie Naginey Hook

PHONE: 814-404-0546

AGENCY: Koch Funeral Home


Anne Frank wrote, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside. . . I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” I see this in action at the outdoor grief education and support gatherings we offer in partnership with Centre Region Parks and Recreation (CRPR).

Research shows that spending time in nature is beneficial in many ways:

· Physical health – It decreases stress hormones, heart rate, and blood pressure, and improves immune systems, sleep quality, and vitamin D absorption. And if you add exercise, these benefits also include the release of endorphins.

· Cognitive health – It helps our brains relax, take a break, and ruminate less.

· Emotional health – It improves self-esteem, resilience, mood, comfort in social situations, and ability to connect with others, and decreases anger.

· Spiritual health – It causes an increase in meditation like brain waves, feelings of awe and inspiration, and time of transcendence.

Any one of these benefits is reason enough to spend time outside and when you’re grieving there are even more. According to author, educator and grief counselor Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., nature:

· Teaches us about the cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth.

· Softens our grief symptoms and acts as a shock absorber.

· Decreases our grief pain so we can engage with it more readily in doses.

· Serves as a companion so we don’t feel alone in our grief.

· Provides “a neutral, nonjudgmental backdrop against which we can be who and what we are.”

In partnership with CRPR, we offer these upcoming programs with the healing aspects of nature:

· A Walk with Grief on Tuesdays, September 5 through October 10 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at local parks – This is not an exercise program but instead a time of coming together and walking to move grief from the inside to the outside, benefit from physical activity, and know you’re not alone.

· Monday’s Moments at Sunset Park on Mondays, September 18 and October 16 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at Sunset Park, 850 McKee Street, State College – At these gatherings we’ll talk about the grief journey and share with one another.

· Med-Knit-ations: Knitting Our Hearts Back Together on Tuesdays, September 19 and October 17 at Tom Tudek Memorial Park, Pavilion 1, 400 Herman Drive, State College – This group is about support, community, knitting, and caring for others by knitting hats and/or sweaters for newborns. No knitting experience is necessary!

For more information and to find the links to register with CRPR, please visit the

of the Koch Funeral Home website, Join us and find as Wolfelt says that, “Simply allowing yourself to feel your grief when you’re in nature will help you heal.”

Jackie Naginey Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula. She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College. For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit

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