GALION — The loss of a loved one is one of the most life-changing experiences anyone can have. The grieving process that follows can be heart-wrenching and almost unbearable to deal with. That’s where GriefShare at St. Paul United Methodist Church comes in to help.
GriefShare is a a 13-week program that offers help and encouragement after the death of a spouse, child, family member or friend. The next session begins at the church, 746 Cherry St., on Monday, March 16 and will run through June 8. The group meets every Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Pastor Ash Welch and Mary Carney, the church secretary and a volunteer with GriefShare, said the idea for a grief support group at the church started in the fall of 2017.
Welch said Carney and another church member who both recently lost their husbands, came to him and asked about starting such a group.
“Mary came to me and said she was struggling with the grief after the loss of her husband,” Welch said. “She had gone to another agency here that offers a grief support group, and it wasn’t quite what she wanted. The other member was also struggling so I asked them both if they would be interested in starting something (at the church) that would be more appropriate for their needs and others, as well.”
Welch said he put in a call to Cindy Wallis at Community Counseling in Bucyrus.
“Cindy is a member here and I’ve worked with her before, as well as Community Counseling,” he said. “I called her and asked if she knew a good grief counselor around here and she suggested Amy Billa. She is a grief counselor and helps with training in setting up grief counseling programs all over the United States.”
He said Billa met with them and they mapped out a program of support and education. It was called ‘Anchored in Hope.’ Welch said this was more than a support group, as it offered an education aspect, too.
Billa came to the church four times a year and gave a seminar on how to deal with grief, the mechanics and science of it. “That’s how it started,” Welch said. “Community Counseling wrote a grant for sponsoring the program.”
“We only met once a month at that time,” Carney said “It was a small group, but it was an effective group. But once that was over with we thought this area needed more.”
Carney and the other church member then approached Welch again and asked what they could do next.
“It needed to be a ministry as far as we were concerned, for us and for St. Paul,” Carney added.
Welch told them about GriefShare and got in touch with national leaders for that and Carney and the other church member went to area locations that were holding GriefShare programs and sat in on a couple sessions.
“We were hooked,” Carney said. “We knew from that point on that was what we needed. It has three different components: a video, a group discussion and a workbook. It’s a structured program, but flexible.”
Welch explained that GriefShare is a not just a support group, but a recovery program, as well.
“There is a difference between the AA-type support groups and a difference in grief recovery,” he said. “Recovery is just that. It’s supposed to be a short-term program that brings people back to a new normal.”
“The intent of grief recovery is that you go in and get the tools you need to function back in society again, instead of staying in your grief and continuing to try to cope with it over a long period of time,” Welch said “You learn the coping skills that are necessary and move out of it and move forward with the rest of your life.”
“And its not moving on,” Carney said. “It’s moving forward. I don’t think you ever get over missing (your loved one) but the idea of the program is to help you function and not stay in a trap where you stay in a funk.”
Although the new session begins on Monday, Carney said people can start anywhere in the 13-week program and then pick up the components they missed in the next session which takes place in the fall.
For more information about the program or to register, call 419-845-3195
Mary Carney and Pastor Ash Welch of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Galion look through the workbook for the GriefShare program held at the church. The program starts next week and there is still time to register. call 419-845-3195 for information.