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Ionia-Montcalm support group helps families cope during holidays with loss

Sentinel-Standard - 12/7/2018

Dec. 05--IONIA -- While many people think of December as month full of holiday cheer, there are others who view it as a painful reminder of loss.

For them, the season brings back memories of lost family members and friends who are no longer around. And the loss they feel can be even more painful if their loved ones died of an overdose.

That's why the topic of Thursday's Ionia Montcalm Families Against Narcotics (IM FAN) meeting will be "grief, depression and maneuvering the holidays." The event will beat 6:30 p.m. at the Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness in Ionia.

"This is a huge topic for Families Against Narcotics," IM FAN Board Member Tammy Curtis said. "It's for families who have lost a loved one to an overdose, or for families who have not physically lost a child or loved one, but suffer the loss of a loved one who is still living, because they lost who they used to be before their addiction."

The featured speaker at the meeting will be Julia Henshaw, a clinical case manager at the Right Door for Hope, Recovery and Wellness. Henshaw is speaking because of her background in social work and work with individuals needing mental health services.

Grief or depression around the holidays doesn't just affect those dealing with addiction. It can strike anyone. That's why, as is the case for all IM FAN meetings, anyone who is interested is welcome to attend for free.

"You don't have to have a loved one with an addiction to attend," Curtis said. "There are many who have suffered a loss, and our speaker will be giving information on how to make the holidays a little easier."

In addition to providing helpful and topical information, the meeting will serve as the IM FAN holiday celebration, with a free spaghetti dinner being put together by the group's board members. Curtis said the dinner is to show appreciation and provide support for families going through struggles with addiction.

There will be no meeting in Greenville later this month, so Thursday will be a joint meeting of the Ionia and Montcalm IM FAN chapters. This means the turnout could be a bit higher than normal, but the door will still be open.

"We are hoping for a good turnout," Curtis said. "We want to have as many people as possible, so they can connect with others, and maybe they won't feel alone in the epidemic."

Curtis added that no RSVP is necessary, but there is an event spot on the IM FAN Facebook page that people can respond to if they plan to come.

IM FAN meets on the first Thursday of each month in Ionia and the third Thursday of each month in Greenville. For more information, visit their website at

"We try to bring education and support to families, and support people wanting recovery, or anyone who simply just wants to know more and understand about addiction," Curtis said.


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