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September 19th, 2019

griefshare barr and foremanGriefShare leaders Euleta Barr, left, and Sarah Boles Foreman review curriculum for a session of the program recently at Friends Church. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

After a funeral, when cards and flowers stop coming, most people start to return to a new normal in their lives.

For others, though, the grief continues with feelings of being alone, and friends and families want to help, but don’t know how.

This was the reason for the creation of GriefShare, a network of more than 12,000 churches worldwide equipped to offer grief support groups. The program is non-denominational and features biblical concepts for healing from grief. 

Locally, Liberal’s Friends Church hosts a GriefShare group, which meets Tuesdays at the church. The fall session started Tuesday and will run through Dec. 10 at 1650 N. Western Ave.

Group leader Sarah Boles Foreman said in addition to Liberal, people have come to sessions from Meade, Hugoton, Ulysses and Guymon, Okla.

GriefShare will meet 12 more times before the end of the fall session at Friends Church, and those who participate do not have to come to every single session.

“Each session is different,” Foreman said. “We have a workbook we use. You go to it, and it’s funny. When you’re ready to hear something, you hear it. Last spring, I heard something I’d never heard. They recommend you come at least three different sessions so you can catch everything.”

Fellow group leader Euleta Barr agreed, saying the timing of the information shared in GriefShare seems to be on cue with participants’ needs.

“When you’re going through the different stages of grief, you’ll feel like ready to hear something but you might not be ready at that time you take it again,” she said. “You don’t catch everything the first time through, so we do recommend people take it more than once. They can use their same workbook. Every session is different, but depending on who is there, someone will say something that has helped them, and it’s just what you need to hear.” 

“The sharing is good,” Foreman said.

“That’s the other part of the three-legged stool,” Barr continued. “There’s the support, which you get from one another, and the DVDs with the experts and also people who’ve gone through it. The workbook reinforces what’s said on the DVD.”

GriefShare was started by a couple who had lost two infants.

“They worked through their grief and realized other people need help to work through their grief,” Foreman said. “And that’s how it came to be for today.”

And GriefShare is not just for those who have experienced a loss recently.

“Even if their losses were 10 years ago, sometimes, you’ve had losses in the past, and you’ve dealt with them okay, but then you have a couple more losses, and it accumulates,” Barr said.

Barr said those who think they are doing okay with their grief are also welcome to come.

“We really need them because if you have tools to deal with it, the rest of us need to hear from you,” she said. 

“You can just add to it,” Foreman said.

Barr said many people who handle death better than others sometimes feel as though because they don’t grieve as much as others, they did not love a person as much as someone else, and this is simply not the case.

“We all grieve differently. Some people rank their losses,” she said. “Pain is pain if you’re grieving. It’s not just for people who’ve had catastrophic losses, it’s for any kind of loss, whether it was a family pet or your entire family. There seems like there’s so many people who’ve had loss after loss after loss. We’ve had people who’ve had six or seven major losses in the past four years. That’s just devastating.”

“Even though you grieve differently, there’s still a common denominator,” Foreman said. 

“A lot of people who go through grief think they’re losing their mind, they’re going crazy,” Barr said. “With grief comes a lot of brain fog. You don’t think as clearly. You think you’re going crazy or something’s wrong with you.”

Barr said doing the workbooks is not mandatory, but like with anything else, the more someone puts into GriefShare, the more they get out.

“Some people can’t do one more thing,” she said. “They’re overwhelmed. We go through our workbook first. Then, we watch the DVD and they can take notes. We discuss the DVD. That’s the support group part.”

GriefShare sessions start at 6:30 p.m. and run until 8:30 p.m., and there is coffee and cookies for those who come. Since each session is a standalone meeting, Barr said those who cannot make it every Tuesday can still make it to a few that make a difference to them.

“If they take it again, they’ll catch up on those, or we can show them another time,” she said. “I’ve come in Monday nights and Saturdays and different times for different people just to show them different ones they’ve lost because they hate to miss.”

Both Foreman and Barr said people who have taken part in GriefShare have seen an impact.

“We’ve had people say it’s saved their lives and that it’s changed their life, that they don’t know what they would’ve done if they hadn’t had this group,” Barr said. “Almost always, universally, the last session, people hate for it to end because you’ve bonded with other people who have gone through grief. A lot of the world, they’ve never had anything go wrong. They’ve never had any grief in their life. They don’t understand, but all you have to tell this group one thing. They don’t really have to say anything more. Everyone knows exactly what that means.”

“We’ve gotten thank you notes from people,” Foreman said. “It’s such a personal experience. They just go on and on about how much it helped them.”

Barr said GriefShare also offers much in the way of information for people who are grieving and hurting.

“There are those common denominators even though we grieve differently,” she said. “We can’t expect everyone to grieve the same way we do.”

Barr said GriefShare likewise provides much help in the mourning process.

“We weren’t meant to go through life alone,” she said. “It’s all about community, and when you’re hurting, that’s especially a time when you need community. You need people to help you. If you try the Lone Ranger grief, it just doesn’t work very well. I think people end up stuffing it down. They go on, and at some point down the road, it explodes. You can’t function. It’s better to deal with it as it comes.”

There is an initial $25 donation requested for the class and workbook, but Barr said this is just a suggested donation.

“We do have scholarships, and we wouldn’t ever want anybody to not come because of the cost,” she said. “It’s more of a ministry that we do for the community.”

Foreman said GriefShare participants are not required to talk.

“You don’t have to say anything. You’re never put on the spot,” she said. “It’s a comfortable environment.”

GriefShare features nationally recognized experts on grief recovery topics. Seminar sessions include “Is This Normal?” “The Challenges of Grief,” “Grief and Your Relationships,” “Why?” and “Guilt and Anger.”

For more information, call Friends Church at 620-624-2763 or the facilitator at 785-727-9175.

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