When Gail Sobotkin, a retired community health nurse and freelance writer from Milford, DE learned her story, “The Boy I Loved and Lost,” would be included in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength, she walked the labyrinth at St. Peter’s Church in Lewes in prayerful meditation. It had been a long time since she lost her first love to cancer when she was 18 years old, but she was grateful their love story would be published in the latest “Chicken Soup” book where it could reach many readers who are currently grieving and need to find a way to move forward with their lives despite their painful loss.
She paused in the heart of the labyrinth and when the hair on her forearms tingled, sensed her lover Helmut’s presence and silent approval. He’d suffered at the end of his short life but had wanted her to live a long life of service to others. The day before he died Helmut told her, “You’ll make a great nurse someday,” and it was the memory of those words which helped lift her out of her grief and focus on her nursing studies after his death.
During her long nursing career she took care of many patients who were chronically or terminally ill and though she has been married to a wonderful man for 40 years, whom she loves dearly, she never forgot the boy she loved and lost and how traumatic it was to watch him die at a time when there were no hospice services available. Personal and professional experience later taught her the comfort such services can provide. Her father died suddenly from a heart attack, but her brother, several close friends, and mother received hospice care before they passed away.
“Grief is always hard to bear, but having the support of caring, knowledgeable professionals makes a huge difference when a family is faced with the imminent death of a loved one,” Mrs. Sobotkin said. “…those services continue after the death when grief counseling for the survivors is needed.”
More recently, Gail discovered labyrinths can be healing in times of grief. In a commentary article that was published in the September issue of Delaware Beach Life titled, “Exploring Life’s Twists and Turns,” she wrote about walking local labyrinths as a tool for meditation and a metaphysical journey through grief. She will be speaking about her use of the labyrinth as a healing tool at a Delaware Grief Workshop and Labyrinth Walk at the Milford Public Library on Saturday, November 1 from 10 am to 1 pm. The event will be sponsored by the Milton Wellness Center, Delaware Hospice and Delaware Grief Awareness Consortium in honor of Delaware’s Grief Awareness Week. The workshop will be led by Mary Van House, a grief and life transitions counselor who is co-owner of the Milton Wellness Center, and Midge DiNatale, a Certified Grief Counselor who works for Delaware Hospice. Mary is also a Certified Labyrinth Facilitator who will introduce participants to the labyrinth as a meditative technique and a tool for healing. Midge will speak about grief and ways to cope with it.
“During the last part of the workshop the lights will be dimmed and participants will have the opportunity to walk the path of the labyrinth, experiment with finger labyrinths, and spend time for reflection and journaling as soothing music plays in the background,” stated Mrs. Sobotkin.
The event is free. For registration or more information about the workshop, individuals can call Gail Sobotkin at 302-422-7862 or email her at Phantomsymon@yahoo.com.