In September, I started attending a support group called Griefshare. It was a 13 weeks program facilitated by two precious ladies from Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, Md.: my home church. At first, I thought that our support group was unique to my church only, but I learned that Griefshare is a program available in many locations nationwide as well as internationally.
The group’s program consisted of a weekly video seminar featuring personal stories of people who were grieving the death of a loved one and expert insights on topics important to grief recovery. The video was followed by a discussion time, to talk about what we had just seen, about our discussion questions, and whatever was on our minds and hearts; while all the while being pampered and showered with Lorraine and Jamee’s wonderful hospitality. I looked forward to and enjoyed my Monday meetings and learned so much about the grieving process. For example: what was or wasn’t normal and that I could expect my emotions to be unpredictable and sometimes surprising in their level of intensity. It also validated everything I was experiencing and I found that to be very comforting and helpful. In addition, I enjoying the new friendships of people who were also learning to cope with their losses.
One of the most beneficial things I came to understand was that there was no getting around the process. Going through the grief was the only healthy way to face my loss. Any attempt to not deal with the painful emotions as they surfaced would only delay the healing that needed to take place. This was one time that procrastination was not an option, if I wanted to get better and fully participate in my life again. Sooner or later, the emotions would come out. I decided that sooner sounded more favorable.
We talked about how to cope with the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and other significant days. I realized that I would need to create a new normal, but observe that although there were many painful moments, my life was still so good! My reality was forever changed, but I had to make the decision to recognize all the blessings that surrounded me. Otherwise, it would be very easy to get stuck in grief and just survive, instead of appreciating all my numerous blessings and living the full and precious life that God has planned for me. I realize that this process is normal and necessary and may take a long time, but I definitely don’t want to stay where I am emotionally and I’ve decided that facing my grief head on would be the best way for me to work through my feelings.
I know I can not accomplish this in my own strength. Never have I been more dependent on my relationship with my Lord than I have been since New Year’s Day last year. Nor have I ever enjoyed such a sweet, authentic time of closeness and sensing His presence. In my heart dwells the understanding that time does not heal all wounds; Jesus does. Lorraine (our facilitator) made it very clear early on, that without the Lord, she and the Griefshare experience had nothing to offer us. My participation in Griefshare had a significant impact on helping me to cope with my grief and I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is dealing with the loss of anyone important in their lives, be it a spouse, parent, child, sibling, relative, or friend. Attending Griefshare is one of the most important things I have done for myself to keep me moving forward and I am so thankful for the time that Lorraine and Jamee invested on my group’s behalf.
I know I will not be traveling this road alone. The Lord has been so faithful to strengthen me each day, providing the grace to get through TODAY, just as He has promised He would. I am still so blessed to be surrounded by so much love from all of you. Thank you for your caring support as I travel on.