Mountain Park Community Church in Ahwatukee Foothills is hosting its annual “Surviving the Holidays” event Thursday night for those dealing with loss and grief.

Part of a larger, 13-week program called GriefShare, attendees can enjoy a catered meal and then participate in the one-night program.

Michelle Donati, one of the evening’s facilitators, said the program has been beneficial to her and her entire family.

After being introduced to the program in 2010, to deal with the loss of her sister, Donati said going through the program and then the holiday event enabled her family to have hope for the holidays.

“Grief comes in waves,” Donati said. “It doesn’t necessarily hit you all at once, and the holidays are a perfect example of that.”

Donati expects a crowd of about 50 this year to attend the program that begins with a video presentation and then small group discussion.

A children’s program is also available, which covers the same curriculum as the adult class, but on a kid-appropriate level.

After her sister’s unexpected death, she left behind three children who Donati said benefitted greatly from the program.

“It was a time the kids looked forward to,” she said.

GriefShare is an international, faith-based program for those dealing with loss and grief. It began in the 1990s and has been at Mountain Park for several years.

Though the holidays are a time most enjoy and get excited about, dealing with any sort of loss, whether it be after 10 years or 10 weeks, Donati said, they can quickly become something dreaded.

“(The program) aims to equip people with tools to get through the holidays, but also to know that there is hope out there to enjoy them,” Donati said.

“Surviving the Holidays” at Mountain Park Community Church, 2408 E. Pecos Road, on Nov. 29 will begin with meals served at 6 p.m. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.

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For more information about GriefShare, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or Follow on Twitter: @_dianamartinez.

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