Facing death and dealing with the aftermath can be a traumatic experience, even for the toughest among us.
There are few things certain in life. One of those things is grief over the loss of a loved one or friend. Facing death and dealing with the aftermath can be a traumatic experience, even for the toughest among us. But there’s a way forward.
Everyone deals with grief differently. Some people can’t stop the tears, while others have none. Some hold on to items belonging to the deceased for years; others get rid of things immediately.
And some take no time at all to work through grief, while many people hold on to grief for months, years, or decades.
For Irene Hurt, a program facilitator GriefShare, discussions with her ailing mother helped ease the process somewhat. Hurt helps others navigate the painful road of grief —an often unspoken, but powerful aspect of mental and emotional health. Hannibal’s GriefShare, held at Laity Counseling in Calvary Baptist Church, is a 13-week program rooted in Biblical concepts dealing with grief.
“We teach our kids to balance their checkbook or fill out an application for a job, but yet, death is inevitable and we are all, at some point, going to be at that crossroad,” Hurt said.
Grief differs from person to person, based on factors including the relationship shared with the deceased in the manner in which he or she died.
Hurt said that the 13-week course will have different results for everyone, and that working through grief can take several 13-week sessions.
Through the program, participants learn to identify the stages of grief, develop an understanding of the emotions attached to grief and reveal a time table of working through grief.
Addressing such topics as “Guilt and Anger,” “What do I live for now?,” and “Feeling stuck,” sessions seek to cover many things a grieving person might experience.
The program is national, which has many benefits, Hurt said. People come from as far away as Shelbina and Bowling Green to attend the Hannibal courses, but with programs running across the country, there’s always an easy way to plug in to a group.
The Laity Counseling Center has been around since 2010, but the GriefShare program held at the center is relatively new, just in its third year. Hurt said she noticed people at her church struggling with grief — people normally viewed as tough and sturdy.
Her work as a teen counselor and in the women’s ministry at her church prompted her to look more into GriefShare.
Grief groups provide an answer to a vastly underserved need, Hurt said.
“We tend to feel like, ‘When I can get a grip in other areas of my life, then I should be able to handle this,’” Hurt described an all-too-common thought process. “But grief is different. Grief isn’t something you can just decide to get over.”
Grief’s indiscriminate nature makes a counseling program like GriefShare that much more valuable, tying people of all different walks of life with a common issue.
And together, they grow, Hurt observed.
At the beginning of the 13 weeks, Hurt explained many people are focused on themselves, asking questions like, “Why me?” and “How do I go on?”
By the end of the 13 weeks, she notices a transformation in many of the participants.
They become less self-focused.
They look to the well-being of others.
They become more connected to the people around them.
Those are signs, Hurt said, that GriefShare works, even if it’s not on a time table original expected by a participant.
Hurt remembers one particular participant who lost her husband of many years.
“You could just see, the devastation was great,” she recalled.
But the participant faithfully attended each meeting, slowly working through the issues. By the end of the 13 weeks, Hurt saw “a little” progress.
After all, grief takes time.
She attended a second 13-week session using much of the same literature.
Hurt remembered the participant learning more the second time around, because she was so deep in grief in the first 13 weeks.
“I could see by the end of the second session that she was doing tremendous,” Hurt remembered.
Hurt hopes people struggling with grief know that there are options for help, and that they aren’t alone.
Grief can throw people into a deep pool of sorrow. But through GriefShare, the grieving have a better chance of not just treading water, but swimming through life again.
There are five GriefShare facilitators at Calvary Baptist. Hurt works alongside facilitators Carole Jo Riley, Christy Perkins, Terri Hosmer, and Doug Hosmer.
A Christian background isn’t necessary for participants, and literature is non-denominational.
For more information on GriefShare, contact 573-795-2433. The spring group is in its sixth week now, and another 13-week session will begin in August.