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Featured in the May 16, 2013 edition of the eNewsletter...
A Message from Ron Holmes
For anyone in the dark, painful journey of grief, “Good Grief” is an oxymoron, something like “clean dirt” or “government efficiency” – two words that just don’t make sense together, an impossibility. Grief is a fact of our earthly life and the journey of grief is inevitable. Sometimes, even when someone close to us dies, we may process our grief relatively easily as just another manageable challenge in the road of life. But at other times the grief we feel seems bottomless as we sink, experiencing it’s powerful grip as it reaches out, grabbing hold of us, shaking us to our very soul and not letting go. In this deep grief we likely feel overwhelmed, helpless and numbed by something we don’t understand; overcome by a power we can’t comprehend. The magnitude and strength of grief can be unlike anything we have ever experienced. In those times of deep grief we need help, God’s help. God is always there to help us – all we have to do is ask.
In February 2012 my wife died unexpectedly after a brief serious illness. While we were still trying to wrap our minds around the reality of her being seriously ill, she died unexpectedly in the middle of the night. People who’ve experienced profound loss will tell you they feel numb at the beginning, everything is surreal, and you survive on adrenaline for a while before the stark reality of the loss sets in. Such was my experience. I had dealt with other losses in my life pretty easily, but this loss was so devastating that I found myself completely overwhelmed by the grief I was experiencing. After a couple weeks I realized that I could not “handle” it myself and in searching and praying for answers and direction God led me to GriefShare.
What I found in GriefShare – a grief recovery support group held at many locations including Derry – was a safe place of caring people. At GriefShare I found a group of people who understood what I was experiencing and who offered me help, support and encouragement as I worked through my grief. Over the 13-week program, a combination of video presentations and small group discussions are used to lead exploration and understanding of the many different aspects of grief and the range of emotions we may experience. It is an opportunity to learn from the others in the group who’ve have had recent losses and to share experiences, tears, hopes and expectations in a safe environment. You quickly find that you are among friends who have had the common tragic experience of losing a loved one and the only rule is confidentiality: “What happens in GriefShare stays in GriefShare.” While every grief experience is unique, it helps to know that others have had similar experiences with grief before you and they have not only survived, but are healing and now live with joy and hope again. You can learn from them.
GriefShare is a Christian, non-denominational program that features biblical perspectives on grief and recovery. Experts (pastors, counselors and authors) relate their personal experiences with grief on the videos. You come to realize that while your grief experience is unique, others have been down this path before. They present some possible solutions to common problems encountered in grieving and help you to look at issues from a different perspective. You learn that processing through grief, getting to real healing takes both effort and time – time alone is not sufficient. You learn the importance of “leaning into your grief”, facing the emotions and fears head on, letting yourself heal.
GriefShare provides a pathway to having your grief become a positive force in your life. While that sounds impossible, what participants come to realize is that while someone precious to them has died and their life will never be the same, their life can be full of hope and joy once again – just different than it was before, and you learn to realize and accept that different is OK. The facilitators have seen the process work over and over as people come into the group broken, struggling, without hope and overwhelmed, yet by the end they are beginning to show progress at putting their lives back together. You will likely hear laughter from the group – unexpected sounds from a grief group. I don’t believe that God wants us to be bitter and forever broken following the loss of a loved one – rather I believe that because God loves us, God will help us heal and wants our lives to again be full of joy. On the journey you may also discover, as I have, some things about yourself that you did not realize before, an unexpected gift and part of the wonder and grace of God’s healing hand. “Good Grief,” a real possibility.
Editor's Note: Derry Church sponsors the 13-week GriefShare program twice a year: afternoon classes January through April and evening classes in the summer. The next series will be held 6-8 pm Mondays June 24-September 23. The program is open to everyone in the community and is part of Derry’s outreach effort. Since its inception, approximately 90 people have participated at Derry. GriefShare is facilitated by Marie Buffaloe, Susan Kastelic, Bob and Marianna Gillespie and Ron Holmes. Contact Marie for more information and to register.