Grieving together and lending a helping hand
GriefShare, a national, faith-based support program, has had a strong presence in Marshalltown for the last decade.
A 13-week session is now in progress. Each session runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays at New Hope Christian Church, 3901 S. Center St. through Dec. 10.
“Most people after the death of a loved one experience lots of support initially, but that support often is needed for longer, and that’s where GriefShare becomes an important resource,” facilitator Ruth Roelsgard said.
People of all backgrounds and ages dealing with the death of a loved one or friend are welcome to join in on the sessions, attending as many or as few as one feels comfortable. Roelsgard said participants must purchase the $15 workbook for the course (financial aid is available), but the sessions themselves are free of charge.
Richard Kennelley, who is also a facilitator, got involved about four years ago with the group after the death of his wife of 52 years in 2014.
“I thought I was going to handle it, but I was devastated,” he said. “I was living in Rock Creek Lake at the time and commuted here. I was pretty well broken by that time. Ruth told me to come for three times and see how I felt, and I had to admit I felt better each time I left than I did when I came.”
Kennelley said he enjoys connecting with the other males in the group who may need a different approach to support than females.
The sessions consist of a video, small group discussion and completing tasks from the workbooks. The curriculum uses Biblical concepts for the healing process, but is non-denominational. Approximately 16 people attend the weekly sessions.
Brenda Palmer signed up for two sessions, but then decided to continue on to help others.
“We learn that all of our crazy feelings are okay and normal. It helped me find my voice and my new normal,” Palmer said.
People are encouraged to enroll in as many 13-week sessions as they would like.
“Some people say they didn’t hear much during the first sessions, so they repeat them and pick up things when they’re not dealing with as much grief,” Roelsgard said.
Becky Fish of Gladbrook shared her story of losing her husband a year and a half ago.
“You’ll come here not knowing each other, but leave as friends,” Fish said. “You come just thinking you’re going to heal personally and you leave caring about all the people around the table. And that’s what makes you heal – reaching out beyond yourself.”
Pre-registration is not required. For more information about the program, phone the church at 641-752-1612 and visit www.griefshare.org.
Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or email@example.com