An Article from Senior Digest, November 2017

Connections Can Make a Difference

by Kim Shute

“A guillotine had sliced between us and I was just waiting to bleed out,” one widow described when her 48 year old husband, of 19 years, died unexpectedly while away on business. “I would scream in the car at the top of my lungs, I was grief.”  Then she found Community Connections classes: Hope for the Holidays , Re-imagining Life After Loss and Grief Recovery Method. She tore through the classes as if her life depended on it, and for a time it did.

Community Connections provides local bereavement programing and offers grief support as well as death education and pre-planning year round. Programing includes three basic workshops that create the foundation for grief work.

Understanding Your Grief

Grief Recovery Method

Traumatic Loss; Surviving Sudden Loss

Community Connections’ extensive list of additional classes – from cooking to yoga to movie nights – are all united by our work around loss. All workshops and classes are free of charge and open to anyone grieving the loss of a loved one.

Engaging with Community Connections programs is simple. Upcoming events, as well as links and articles related to the grief journey, are listed and at You can also call 401-619-2877 for information or stop by Hambly House, Wednesdays between 12:30 and 2:30 to chat.

Over 20 years ago Community Connections was established through the generosity of Memorial Funeral Homes where all lives can be honored and commemorated.  While Community Connections still remains the only program of its kind in Rhode Island, it recently added a next level of grief support by contracting with a licensed social worker who offers groups and one on one counseling.

Community Connections is led by the Rev. Dr. Lark d’Helen, Director of Community Education. d’Helen has over thirty years of experience as a minister including twelve years as a chaplain for Newport Hospital and over ten years as adjunct faculty in Thanatology at University of Rhode Island. She is certified in the study of death, loss, and bereavement and as well as Grief Recovery Method.

Melissa Mastrostefano LICSW, our grief counselor and licensed clinical social worker, has 33 years of clinical experience with a variety of age groups. Community Counseling and Restorative Practices, LLC is her practice in Jamestown and Newport.

Kim Shute, a widow herself, serves as Program Coordinator and is often the person you will first encounter when contacting Community Connections. Kim has been a partner and advocate at Community Connections since her husband died in 2015.

No words can encompass the enormity or complexity of loss following the death of someone significant. In the time following death, one can feel isolated watching others continue to live their lives. Community Connections programs reach out to others who “get it” and bring the bereaved together to share stories.