HEATH, TX. (June 25, 2015) “It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’ or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ . . . You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter.”
Christian writer C. S. Lewis first penned those words into notebooks he did not intend to publish. His bitter-to-better ramblings became A Grief Observed, a small book that shares his painful journey through grief after the loss of his wife. As I read his sometimes desperate entries, I wished he might have had the benefit of GriefShare, a ministry that offers a biblical perspective for recovery through the local church.
GriefShare is a non-denominational seminar and video-based support program developed in 1998 by Church Initiative—also known for DivorceCare. Both of these programs were designed to serve the needs of churches by creating Christ-centered resources to help hurting people.
Nearly 12,000 churches worldwide host GriefShare seminars for members and non-members in their communities. The 13-week program is specifically for those grieving the death of a family member or friend. It’s designed to teach people how to go through a healthy season of grieving as they transition back to wholeness, referred to as “your journey from mourning to joy.”
Through the local church
GriefShare is offered at different times of the year and on different days of the week, depending on the host church. There is typically no fee beyond the $20 workbook, though some churches supply these without cost. It’s easy to find a group at GriefShare.org, which currently lists two churches in Rockwall and many others in nearby communities.
According to the GriefShare website, some churches report that a large percentage of attendees are not from their church and that many participants do not have an active spiritual life. So the seminar may also serve as an outreach to the un-churched and to those without Christ.
Linda Northcutt co-facilitates a year-round GriefShare ministry at First Baptist Church of Rockwall. “Ours is ongoing,” she says. “It’s always small—eight to ten participants. But it’s like an emergency room, open all the time.”
She sees people in the early stages of grief. “It helps to be reminded of Scripture, to know what is true, though you don’t feel it now,” she says. “Some people walk into the room and can’t speak, not even about who they lost. Just listening helps them. As they progress they cry less. And healing comes.”
It’s a process
GriefShare groups are led by volunteers who understand grief and desire to encourage others. Each meeting opens with prayer, followed by a 45-minute video that features real-life stories of individuals who experienced loss, along with interviews with counselors and others with expertise in grief recovery.
Each video has a particular focus, for example: “Guilt and Anger” and “Stuck.” The self-contained sessions allow people to join a group at any point and finish at the next available seminar. After the video, members divide into small groups for discussion.
Linda says that some participants attend a second and third session of the entire program. “It becomes a support group. You become friends, forming a bond. But you’re also in a different place the next time around. When grief is new, you miss some of the truth.”
C. S. Lewis observed the same thing, saying, “You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.” And he concluded: “Sorrow…turns out to be not a state but a process.”
To find or start a group in your area, visit GriefShare.org, which offers daily emails and other support and resources. Connect with them at www.facebook.com/griefshare, email@example.com or 800-395-5755.
By Blue Ribbon News contributing writer Patti Richter of Heath.
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