GriefShare programs begin Nov. 13 in Shreve

GriefShare programs begin Nov. 13 in Shreve

After losing his wife of 44 years, Steve Yoder knew he could either sit at home and wallow in grief or he could find a way to work through the sadness.

The Wooster man chose to do the latter by attending a GriefShare support group at Shreve United Methodist Church.

Yoder said the program’s research-based information covered so much, and just sharing was healing. “We were all going through similar situations,” he said, “so it was easier to share with the group than sit at home and stare at the walls.”

Shreve United Methodist Church is again reaching out to the hurting by offering GriefShare on Saturday, Nov. 13. It will offer one session in the morning — "Surviving the Holidays" — from 10-11:30 a.m. Attendees have a choice of afternoon seminars — "How To Help Children and Youth in Grief" or "Loss of a Spouse" — from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The free program includes a boxed lunch. Reservations can be made by calling facilitator Wendy Starr at 330-465-1791 or emailing her at starrwendy@gmail.com by Nov. 11.

GriefShare is a nondenominational, biblically based grief support and education program open to anyone who has lost a loved one. Starr is one of five GriefShare facilitators who work as a team to provide a calm, safe environment for those who have suffered the loss of a family member.

GriefShare videos feature interviews with leading authors, counselors, speakers and pastors with years of expertise in grief recovery.

“Everyone faces grief, and the suffering continues long after a funeral,” Starr said. “The loneliness can be exhausting. Our purpose is to invite anyone struggling over the loss of a loved one to come and find encouragement.”

Yoder was no stranger to grief. He’d lost his parents, his wife’s parents and a sister, but losing his spouse was different. “With all the time you’ve spent together,” he said, “there’s a uniqueness to that.”

Yoder’s wife Nancy battled cancer for 21 years before passing away last year. A neighbor invited him to SUMC’s GriefShare. He’d tried a virtual support program through hospice but liked the interaction of the in-person GriefShare.

“The beginning was tough for all of us,” he said, "but toward the end we had quite a team. We shared our down times and our good times.”

The "Surviving the Holidays" seminar was of particular help. When the Christmas season came around, “I did things differently. I put a tree in a different room and got different decorations,” he said.

He made paper German stars and gave them away.

Starr said "Surviving the Holidays" helps participants prepare for the emotional challenge of facing holidays by offering practical tips to soften the grief.

In "Loss of a Spouse," participants learn how to handle loneliness, what to do with their spouse’s belongings and find the strength to go on. They receive a booklet with more than 30 short readings on how to live with and eventually rebuild their lives.

"How To Help Children and Youth in Grief" is for adults who know or work with children and youth. It features a video with practical, encouraging advice from counselors and grief experts on helping a young person as they face the loss of someone in their life. A video presentation will be followed by a small group sharing time with hands-on ways to interact with young people.

Starr has seen the program make a difference.

“We have observed great progress with our GriefShare attendees who truly moved from mourning to joy,” she said. “Their grief journeys are each uniquely personal, but the growth continues as they rediscover new paths for themselves, often building new friendships from our group.”

During the Christmas season, the church will host a contemplative service for those who are carrying pain or loss on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. It will start its 13-week GriefShare sessions on Jan. 6.

The church also offers GriefShare Alumni events to keep participants together supporting one another.

"You have to move on," Yoder said. "GriefShare is a place to get started."