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Bradford woman opens new 'Grief Cafe' for those coping with loss

'The only way to process grief is to go through it,' says Cynthia Breadner, founder of Bradford's new Grief Cafe
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Cynthia Breadner opened 'Grief Cafe,' the first of its kind in Bradford, helping those suffering from loss. Pictured here holding a photograph of her and her mother, who she lost in 2009. Natasha Philpott/BradfordToday

Suffering from a loss of any kind is never easy. It could be the loss of a job, the passing of a loved one, or just a life change in general that causes someone a great deal of grief. 

Bradford resident Cynthia Breadner has developed her own program, Grief Cafe, to help those coping with the feelings of sadness and grief. 

“I’ve been passionate about grief work for years,” says Breadner, who has been helping people cope with their sadness for over 20 years. She also has a BA in gerontology (the study of aging) and her Master of Divinity (MDIV), the study of ‘God.’

“When we grieve, suffer sadness, it usually and often is a relationship breakdown with our spirit,” she explained. 

“How do we exist in the world spiritually? It’s different than religion, it has to do with how we care for our human spirit.”

Not being able to process grief properly she says, can have negative effects on the physical body and mental health. 

She touched on the five steps of grief:  denial, depression, bargaining, anger, and acceptance.
 
“Once you go through those you can then work on your grief,” she explained, noting that people will go back forth through all the stages. 

“It’s a process in which we are constantly dealing with and when we have the right tools we are able to process it,” she said. 

Some of those tools are what she is hoping to provide through her new program, which she noted is more of a cursory support group. It is a place for those looking for support with grief and removing the stigma and myth surrounding it. It’s a place to ask questions and discover strategies on coping. 

"As I've grieved my own losses in my own life, what I have realized is the people who took the time to sit with me and be with me, were so beneficial," she said.

When grieving, she noted how most people will do anything to avoid it but “the only way to process grief is to go through it,” she explained. "Allow yourself the sadness."

She says there is a large need for support services that deals with grief in Bradford, and mental health in general. 

And while most people think of grief after a death, Breadner says grief is associated with many other life changing situations such as the loss of a job, the ending of a relationship or a traumatic experience. 

The new group will give people a safe space to begin to learn how to be with their grief. 

"You cannot suffer the past or the future, it does not exist. What you are suffering is your memory and your imagination," is a quote from Sadhguru that Breadner has hung on her wall. 

"So when people understand that, that's how you can change your now," she said. 

Her hope is to eventually expand the group and develop a practice to offer one on one sessions and in the longterm, would love to have a spirit centre, with resource centre for spirituality and refuge, in the downtown Bradford core. 

In the fall, she will be going back to school for a Masters in Pastoral Studies with a certificate in Psychotherapy. 

Back in the summer, Breadner held a butterfly release event at Holland Gardens, as a way to honour those who have passed on. She plans to host another release sometime this June, this time at Scanlon Creek. 

Her biggest challenge when starting the group was finding a space in town to host her meetings, as she wanted to keep them free. She is thankful and appreciates Cathy McLean offering her Zumba studio free of charge to use on Sunday evenings. 

The group meets on the second and fourth Sunday of every month at Cathy’s Zumba in Da House at 7 p.m, 54 Holland St. West. For more information follow the Grief Cafe Facebook page here or email cynthia.breadner@gmail.com 




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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday's Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats
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