Beaufort marriage and divorce counselor offers tips, support sessions for navigating holidays

loberle@islandpacket.comNovember 9, 2013 

Beaufort-based Christian marriage counselor and divorce coach Carol Erb

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  • 1. Have a plan.

    It's best to know the arrangements well in advance. Know who's going to have the children when. A parenting plan should be in place, but be willing to compromise.

    2. Create new traditions.

    You've had these family traditions, and now you wonder how you do it without that loved one there. The chair is empty at the table; you're not getting the Christmas tree together. There's multiple losses involved. Instead of mourning the loss of old traditions, create new ones.

    3. Communicate your grief with others.

    The holidays can mean a lot of parties -- ones you want to go to but may not be up to attending when it comes down to it. Let the host know that you're accepting the invite but you're still dealing with grief, and it in the end you may not make it, or you may get there and have to leave soon.

    4. Let things go.

    Sometimes people say stupid things to people. Usually they're just trying to make small talk, but you're much more sensitive at this time of the year. You just have to remember that they mean well. They may have never gone through what you're going through, therefore they can't really understand.

    5. Keep the child first.

    It's the child's right to be able to spend time with his or her mom or dad. It's not the parents' right; it's the child's right. Often, they get put in the middle.

    What kind of story do you want to write into your children's lives? Do you want a story filled with anger and resentment towards one another? Or are you going to write a story of forgiveness, one where you're cooperative and where you're putting the children's needs over your own.

  • WHAT: “Facing the Holidays: Helping You Navigate the Challenges of Divorce,â€

The holidays are built around traditions created within the close relationships of friends and families. It's about the meals shared, the parties attended, the gifts exchanged.

But when a family has been disrupted -- either by divorce, separation or death -- the holidays can be a time of uncertainty, angst and emotional ambush.

To help those families, marriage counselor, divorce coach and mediator Carol Erb will hold two free seminars in Beaufort: "Facing the Holidays."

At the seminars, she will provide tips as well as support and encouragement to get through the holidays. The sessions will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 and Dec. 10 at her office, 2015 Boundary St., suite 226, Beaufort.

"People don't know how to do this," Erb said. "It's not like you go to school and there's a course on how to navigate the holidays after a loss."

In addition to providing expertise and advice, she aims to create a community of families going through such disruptions.

"They're around other people who understand, so that automatically gives a feeling of support," Erb said. "It puts everybody on a level of equality with what they're feeling. They're not alone."

Erb's personal experience gives her an edge: She was a child of divorce and is divorced with three sons.

"I didn't have the help I needed," Erb said. "It's just comforting when you know someone's gone down the road before you and has emerged victorious out of that pain."

Erb, who has a doctorate in clinical Christian counseling, opened her practice in Beaufort in May after moving from Key Largo, Fla., where she also had a private practice.

"I offer a Christian focus, and that's why a lot of people come to me," Erb said. "Their faith is important to them and they want to make sure whatever they're working with, it compliments their faith."

Erb has held the seminar for the past 10 years at her practice in Florida. She offers a complimentary counseling session afterward to those who need continued support. The two sessions will be identical in content, but also provide an opportunity for both parties to attend a session separately.

"I've heard it said so many times, 'I wish I could just sleep through it and wake up and it's over,'" Erb said. "When they walk away I think they'll have the confidence, clarity and a sense of control that they can get through the holidays."

Related content

Dr. Carol Erb's website

The Beaufort Center for Marriage

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