Serving with GriefShare

By Sandy Elder

Although I’ve been involved as one of the co-facilitators of the GriefShare group we have at New Life, I usually question every year whether or not I should be involved in the group.

Don’t get me wrong. I really do think that our 13-week grief support group has been truly amazing. God brings this group of hurting individuals together, and they become a caring community for one another. They show great acceptance and love, and they bear one another’s burdens with the compassion of Christ for others who, like themselves, are grieving the death of a loved one. It is a privilege to co-lead the group with such wise and sensitive women: Sue Lutz, Maureen Joos, and now, Catherine Krasinski.

So why do I question my involvement? My experience of loss and grief from the death of my parents and another family member is SO many years ago (my mother died when I was 11, my dad died when I was 25 and my niece died when I was 30), that I wonder if someone else whose grief experience is more recent should take my place.

But then, something occurs like this: A woman called to inquire about GriefShare. When I asked her about her loss, she said that it was sort of complicated. Her brother died at age 21 from a three-year fight with cancer. She was 16 years old at that time and his death had been so confusing to her faith. Still, her parents handled their grief with God, and that helped her to believe. Years later, she and her husband took care of her parents as their health was declining. After a number of years, her mother died in 2011, and then her father also died at the end of 2014. As soon as she said that, I could remember my grief so well, and I said, “Oh, I am so sorry. I know how hard that is, especially when you were so involved in caring for them,” because I also had cared for my ailing father the year or two before he died. I went on to say: “It’s almost like you have to figure out again who you are, when you’re neither a daughter nor a caretaker anymore. And then she sighed, “Yes, that’s what it’s like. You almost don’t know what to do with yourself or even who you are.” And I knew that she felt heard and understood by me. Her experience of grief was known by another.

And then I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is why I’m involved with our GriefShare ministry.’ I’ve been there, and I want to walk alongside others on that hard road of grief, reminding them of how Christ accompanies us and comforts us as we walk on that path of suffering.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 says this: “Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God, for just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Our GriefShare group this year will begin Monday, March 9, from 7 to 9 PM, and will meet every Monday evening through June 8, 2015. If you know someone who’s grieving or you, yourself, have lost a loved one to death, please come and experience a safe place to grieve, be heard and know the comfort of Christ.