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'Waves of Grief' surf therapy program available in San Diego

Posted at 12:54 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 10:58:37-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — During the pandemic, life has taken so many turns for everyone and many people were forced to deal with hardship and loss.

And now a local program is looking to help people heal from that one wave at a time.

It’s in the ocean, where healing happens for those who participate in the "Waves of Grief" surf therapy program, a collaboration between the Groundswell Community Project, the Pain Trauma Institute, and the Aubrey Ellis Foundation.

The program is based on a woman’s heartache, Kelsey Eliis’ story is featured in a National Geographic program called “Impact.”

Kelsey lost her twin sister to COVID very early on in the pandemic, her sister Audree was working as a nurse when she got sick. After she passed away, Kelsey who grew up surfing with her sister, channeled her grief through surfing and decided to share that with others dealing with similar situations.

Kelsey adds, “We are like the ocean and the waves are the emotions that move through us. All you want to do is push those waves away or turn from them. But, when you’re surfing you can’t do that.”

Tracey Chester who is the Founder of San Diego Pain and Trauma Institute, which is part of this program, walks us through how they turn something negative into a positive experience.

She adds, “If you were thinking about a loved one you may say their name in a little ceremony and throw it in there. And then we leave it behind on the beach and go and play.”

Tracey says there are a number of benefits, emotionally, neurologically physically to being in the water. Plus during this therapy this group bonding builds a community. She says, “They come back from the ocean in a completely different mood and has a positive experience.”