Submitted by the City of Beaumont
“The pain passes, but the beauty remains”
—French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Our “Hometown Heroes” at Solera Oak Valley Greens help their neighbors cope with loss and find renewed meaning in life.
For several years, retired therapist Martha Roberts and former hospice counselor Karen Wilson have offered free bereavement support group sessions for Solera residents.
“When we lose someone we love, it’s a universal experience,” said Roberts, a retired marriage and family therapist from Pepperdine University’s counseling center. “And the way we honor that person—even in their absence—is by living our life well.”
On March 5, the Beaumont City Council named the two bereavement counselors “Hometown Heroes.
“By encouraging volunteerism, the City of Beaumont and the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce are enhancing our community,” said Wilson, a retired law firm administrator, who also earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. “Martha and I accept this honor with great humility.”
Making a difference
“Hometown Heroes” create a caring community for all of us, just like the bereavement counselors at Solera, a 55+ retirement community of nearly 1,300 homes in Beaumont.
The Beaumont Chamber of Commerce nominated these Solera residents for the honor. And under a new program starting next month, Beaumont and Cherry Valley residents can start nominating their own “Hometown Heroes.” Nomination forms can be picked up at the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, 726 Beaumont Avenue, or downloaded from the Chamber’s website, www.beaumontcachamber.com
From grief to acceptance
In 2006, Roberts left the Los Angeles area and settled into a new life at Solera. The former therapist quickly began using her skills in the retirement setting, where some had lost a parent, a spouse, a child, or even a good friend. She found her neighbors often needed to share their grief and loss. In 2006, Roberts began holding weekly bereavement support sessions in a room at the Solera clubhouse. Small groups of four to nine people met for two hours at a time. In 2010, she met Wilson and invited the former hospice counselor to join her effort.
The 12-week course developed by Roberts covers 10 identified stages of grief. It begins with shock, which is often followed by depression, anxiety, anger and other emotions before eventually acceptance. The bereavement counselors emphasize that everyone experiences grief differently and that healing takes time. The average time for most people is two years. Participants may attend as many groups as they wish.
At Solera, bereavement support groups allow people to share their loss in a supportive, nurturing environment. They’re assured confidentiality during the meetings. So far, nearly 70 Solera residents have participated in the support groups.
“Those who love will never forget the beloved who is no longer with us,” Roberts says. “But the grieving process also allows us to go on with our lives, even while remembering that loss.”
The two Solera residents are asking those who want to set up other bereavement support groups in the Pass to contact them. Roberts may be reached at 951-845-8102 and Wilson may be reached at 951-845-0639.