Providing valuable emotional support

GriefShare facilitators Bob Kryter, from left, Jim Eriksson, Marce Strickland, Diana Eriksson and Lynne MacConnell review plans for the program’s upcoming start. The 13-week program will resume Aug. 26 at the Community Church at Tellico Village.

Dealing with the death of someone is always difficult, but through GriefShare with the company of others the hope is that emotional pain will subside within time.

GriefShare, a 13-week Christian-oriented bereavement group, is set to resume 10 a.m.-noon Aug. 26 at the Community Church at Tellico Village. Meetings will be held every Thursday at the church through Nov. 18. Pre-registration is encouraged and $20 is asked to cover a workbook and supplies.

“You have loved ones and you have family and friends, but the people who are actually going through it, the most beautiful thing that we see when they come in and we always say, ‘I’m so proud of you for coming because I know how difficult it is’,” Diana Eriksson, facilitator, said. “Some of them circle the parking lot several times before they come in. It’s difficult to face it, but once they come everybody in that room has had similar — maybe not the same loved one passed away — but they’ve lost someone very significant. That starts to bond them and they share things. So often we hear, ‘I’ve never told anyone this,’ and it’ll be a year or two since their loved one died but they’ll share things in that group that they would never share anywhere else. Like Bob (Kryter, facilitator) said, what is said there stays there and we make that very clear at the first meeting.”

GriefShare, which is internationally recognized, has been a staple in Tellico Village for years rotating among churches. The past three years it’s been offered at the Community Church. Each meeting consists of a video and then support group discussion.

“Many of the presenters are pastors or people of strong faith that talk about how their faith has been helpful to them,” Lynne MacConnell, facilitator, said. “I think it’s important to say people who are not involved in the church or who maybe even don’t realize they need a faith are welcome to come and participate. No one is excluded because of religion or no denomination.”

A workbook is also provided for visitors to help reinforce the meeting.

“The workbook often uses a particular psalm to concentrate on for the day or particular verse from the Bible. Those sources are written in the workbook,” Marce Strickland, facilitator, said.

“Each of the 13 weeks there is a particular subject,” Jim Eriksson, facilitator, added. “... Those Bible verses I think come up a lot in the workbook and they’re tied in with that subject.”

Diana emphasized visitors are encouraged to move forward instead of move on.

“There’s a difference between them,” Diana said. “When you move forward you’re taking everything with you, taking all the memories you had, who you are because you had that relationship. When you move on you leave everything behind. We try to encourage them, ‘You don’t need to do that. You are who you are because of that relationship that you have that contributed to it’.”

Although discussion is always encouraged, visitors don’t have to say a word.

“You never want to force people to talk, and so they’re perfectly welcome to just listen,” MacConnell said. “Then after a while people who are hesitant will begin to feel comfortable with what they’re hearing from others, see the similarities and you usually find that they begin to participate. One of the most striking things is how people will heal each other. The healing flows and the support flows within the group. It’s not what we do, it’s what they do for each other with the stimulus video to get started.”

Each session is standalone. Strickland said if someone misses a meeting, they can pick it up at the next go-around.

“Another thing that I found fascinating is that a number of people who finish the 13 weeks or some portion of them will then come back for another go-around because you hear things differently at different times,” MacConnell said. “When people are first grieving they’re so much in shock and they don’t hear a lot, and so another time they’re in a different place and they will hear it differently and react to it differently.”

For more information, call the Community Church at 865-458-1516.