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.
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"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."