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GriefShare; You’re not alone
RUMFORD- Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Are the holidays a particularly hard time for you? Whether your pain is fresh or the scar has been there for a while, there is someone out there to listen and help you with your grief.
Beginning at 6 p.m. tonight at Swift River Healthcare, and lasting for one hour, Velma Evans will facilitate a GriefShare recovery support group over the next several weeks.
“Having experienced my own grief and having had support in the past, I know this group will be an asset to many.”
Often times, it helps to know you’re not alone in the way you’re feeling and reaching out for support may be the hardest thing to do. In this story you will meet three women, with sudden loss fresh in their minds, who have come forward to help you take that first step.
“On October 18, 2011, we got the call none of us ever want to get. Our son, Jordan, 18 years old, had died suddenly in a car accident. Our life, in that split second, changed forever.”
Sandy Cole has learned since then that grief is different for everyone. The first six weeks after Jordan passed away, it was all about surviving.
“Trying to get out of bed and function till I could go back to bed,” stated Sandy. “That was my day.”
In those first weeks a friend asked her if she had heard of GriefShare, Sandy had not. She found their website online and found the beginnings of comfort in their daily words of advice and things to do.
“It was a way to handle grief from some people who understand loss,” stated Sandy. “They have been through it themselves. It also gave me resources.”
After the first couple of months, Sandy stated that she had read every grief book she could get her hands on. “At the end of each daily Griefshare they share a title of a book on loss, coping, dealing with grief, and others,” stated Sandy. “The daily Griefshare has been such a blessing to me.”
While using the online version of GriefShare, Sandy met Terry Hathaway.
Terry lost her sister Naomi to a brain aneurysm in May of 2011.
“Soon after Naomi's passing, my mom told me about the daily emails that GriefShare offers,” stated Terry. “I found these daily emails so helpful as they dealt with exactly what I was going through with our loss. They touched on the emotional roller coaster that I found myself on, they addressed the issue of questioning God, not His existence but if He really knew what he was doing and many other subjects. It seemed as though each email was perfectly timed for what I was experiencing that very day.”
Terry and her husband, Mark, located a church in Taunton, MA that was offering the weekly GriefShare sessions and they began to attend them.
They found the DVDs to be extremely helpful, “as they not only offered advice and tips from professionals, but more importantly, they interviewed real people who have experienced the loss of a loved one.”
Terry remembered, “I felt like, ‘okay, if they survived, I can survive.’"
Terry noted three sessions in particular, of the various ones offered, that really spoke to her.
She learned that what she was experiencing in her grief over Naomi's passing was normal. Breaking down in the Hallmark store when she saw a card for 'Sister' was normal. Feeling like she just wanted to go back to bed was normal. Having moments of anger at the situation was normal.
“I remember telling Mark after Naomi's death, ‘I just want to feel normal again.’”
As Mark and Terry continued on their journey, the other session that spoke to Terry was knowing that our days are numbered.
“This was huge for me. I don't know how many times I've read that verse in Psalms 139:16, "’Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ But what a comfort to me to know that God knew, even before Naomi's birth, that May 15, 2011 would be her last day on this earth and her first day in Heaven. To us, Naomi's death seemed sudden and horrific, but to God, He knew that Naomi would step into Heaven that very day.”
Terry continued, “It's okay to question God, He can take it. But my questioning just lead me to realize that He never left us while we were sitting in that waiting room in Portland. He never left us while we were saying our goodbyes to Naomi. He never left us as we have been walking this rough road called grief and He will never leave me. I don't need to know why, I just need to trust that He is in control and I will see my sister again. That's a huge comfort.”
Terry and Mark are now just finishing up facilitating their second GriefShare group. “What a blessing to be able to help others as they deal with the losses in their lives,” stated Terry. “Going through this program helped me to deal with the grief over losing Naomi and it prepared me for when my dad passed away this past April. I knew what to expect from my grief. It doesn't take away the pain, but it does help you to realize that no, you are not losing your mind, you're just grieving. I can't imagine where I would be today in my journey of grief without having this resource available to me and to our family.”
Family friend, Michelle Johnson was like a sister to Naomi. Before Naomi passed she was not a believer.
“After Naomi died in May of 2011, I was told about GriefShare by mom (Naomi’s mom, Brenda Swan) and the last thing I wanted was to go there and to hear the different platitudes of reasoning. You know, it was her time, it happened for a reason...I didn’t want to hear any of that. I didn’t know there was a Heaven, but I knew, deep down inside that Naomi was definitely there. If anyone goes to Heaven, it’s Naomi.”
“The group is Christian based and it lets people know that you have hope. It doesn’t mean we don’t suffer as Christians, it’s just in a different way,” noted Michelle.
“Initially I went to support Brenda. I went in guarded, but by the second meeting I was there for me. I saw how it could help me. I think God was opening my heart to it. I felt the process working.”
Michelle was comforted by the emails she received from GriefShare. She began to see life in a new light. And, six months after Naomi passed, her cousin, Rick passed.
“By that time I had accepted Jesus into my heart. I felt like I had lost two siblings within those six months. Rick was like a brother to me.”
The second time around Michelle stated that it was like reading a book or seeing a movie a second time, “I got more out of the group. It’s like I was seeing things for the first time. It was very helpful to go through the group again.”
Michelle remembers her family telling her that she was able to help them through her cousin’s death by knowing what she did. “I was, and still am so very grateful to God for giving me this resource in order to learn how to grieve.”
Michelle recently lost her mother and relies on the knowledge she gained from GriefShare to help her through her days.
“This group is not just for those who have recent losses in their lives,” stated Michelle. “I’ve seen people there who are struggling 10 or more years after losing a loved one. There is hope.”
The three women were moved to share their stories in hopes that they will be able to help others. Let their testimonies be a pillar of strength to help you take that first step to learning how to live with your grief.
The GriefShare support group will begin at 6 p.m. this evening in the lobby of Swift River Healthcare and will last one hour. It is free of charge and coffee and tea will be provided.