PATRICK WEBB/For the Observer
LONG BEACH — Christmas is supposed to be a time of happy celebration. But for some, this time of year offers the prospect of unhappiness and loneliness.
Anyone who has lost a loved one during the past 12 months is facing the prospect of their first holiday season without them.
Jose Agosto, a Long Beach pastor with a background in counseling, is offering some help.
He will lead two classes next month designed to help people better process their grief. The sessions at his church Dec. 7 and 14 are designed to teach how grief can be a healthy emotion that people process differently.
“It’s not an illness — it is a natural part of life,” said Agosto, pastor at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Long Beach.
He stresses that his approach is for designed everyone, not just Christians or members of his denomination.
“Some people lose their identity in grief, and there are different stages of grief,” he said. “It’s different for everybody. But you can be happy and still honor the memory of the person you lost, especially what you learned from that person.”
He asks that people interested in attending to call him to register so they can offer preliminary insights into their personal situations. He anticipates most wishing to attend will have lost a loved one, but grief also extends to the loss of a beloved pet or even a lost job, that changes feelings of self-worth.
“I honor the people’s individual perspectives,” he said, noting that everyone approaches the issue differently. “This is not a religious exercise.”
Agosto grew at as a Catholic altar boy in Puerto Rico, and smiles when he recalls that his constant questioning led him to the Adventists, a Protestant faith which observes the sabbath on Saturdays and believes in salvation through faith rather than good deeds.
His healthcare career began in emergency room nursing then embraced naturopathic medicine. His varied experience includes teaching in Puerto Rico, Sweden and Virginia. He has worked in the U.S. Virgin Islands and published papers on death and dying, wound care and preparing for surgery.
He attended the Adventists’ Loma Linda University in California where he graduated with a master’s degree in religion with an emphasis in clinical pastoral counseling. He also earned a degree from Texas Chiropractic College in preventive health, with an emphasis in mental health.
His career brought him to Southwest Washington after a stint as a pastor in Coquille, Ore., where he was assigned by Adventist leaders to “heal” a parish with multiple problems. He became district pastor in Long Beach, with additional congregations in Astoria and Cathlamet, about a year ago.
He prefers to call next month’s sessions a “class” rather than a support group. It is titled, “Healing Grief for the Holiday.” To register, call Agosto at 541 404-1175.
6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 and Dec. 14
Long Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church, 2707 Pacific Ave., Long Beach,
To register, call Jose Agosto at 541 404-1175