GriefShare support group helps people mourning loss of loved one

  • Follow Your Faith

In the four years since Katie York died, her mother, Melrose, has become what she calls a “grief ambassador.”

Back | Next
Helen Morgan and the Rev. Greg Hatfield talk about the grief ministry at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Helen Morgan and the Rev. Greg Hatfield talk about the grief ministry at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.

“It’s given me purpose knowing I can help others with their grief,” said York, a member of Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church.

In two weeks, the church will offer GriefShare, a 13-week seminar and support group for people mourning the loss of a loved one. York facilitates the program with Helen Morgan, of First Presbyterian Church of Augusta.

The two churches are collaborating to bring the grief-support ministry to members of their congregations and the community at-large.

At the opening session, York and Morgan will share their experiences.

In April 2008, Morgan’s younger sister, Ann Fox Smith, was murdered in Aiken. York lost her daughter, Katie, in May 2008 to complications from viral encephalitis.

Two years later, the Wilson Family YMCA dedicated the Kathryn M. York Adapted Aquatics Center in honor of Katie, an adapted-aquatics instructor.

She would have been 23 the day the pool opened.

“GriefShare helped,” said York, who went through the program as a participant after Katie’s death. “What I love about this program is it provides ongoing care after the cards and letters stop.”

GriefShare is a ministry of the North Carolina-based Church Initiative, a nondenominational nonprofit that equips churches with a variety of small-group curriculums, including DivorceCare support groups and Chance to Change, a ministry for gambling addicts.

Thousands of GriefShare support groups meet weekly throughout the United States and Canada. A handful of other local churches also participate.

The group that now meets at Trinity began with a half dozen women in a living room three years ago.

“At First Pres, we both knew a woman who lost her husband,” York said. “We met in this woman’s house, and it grew and grew and grew.

The most recent session of GriefShare, in the spring, had 27 participants. More are expected in the fall session.

“It’s going to take off,” York said. “We had to move. There’s such a need for this in the community.”

The Rev. Greg Hatfield, the senior associate minister at Trinity, agreed.

“There’s undealt with grief from illness, divorce, death. I see it every day in some form,” he said. “We want people to deal with it in a healthy way.”

The sessions address topics surrounding grief, including Living With Grief, The Journey of Grief, When Your Spouse Dies, Surviving the Holidays, and what the group calls “secondary grief.”

“My sister who died was a teacher,” Morgan said. “The next fall, I walked into Staples and saw the notebooks and just started crying. That’s secondary grief.”

Everyone experiences it in different ways, often months or years after the fact, York said.

“I have a terrible time going to weddings,” she said. “I think about how old Katie would be. That part of her life is over. I can get through the wedding, but I can’t watch the father-daughter dance. I still can’t.”

The group aims to be a safe place to work through issues of grief, Morgan said.

“Generally in America, you take two or three days for the funeral and go back to work,” she said. “You’re supposed to be over it in two to three months. Your friends are tired of hearing about your grief. People want you to feel better again. GriefShare is a wonderful place where you’re loved and accepted and no one is going to say, ‘move on.’”

Sally Sollie, like a number of participants, has attended GriefShare more than once. The 85-year-old’s husband died of Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was lost after he left,” Sollie said. “I was very much secluded in many ways during my husband’s illness. This was a way of reaching out.”

She liked GriefShare because “they deal with the emotion, spiritual and physical side effects of grief.”

The program is “biblically centered,” York said. Participants are offered workbooks with prayers, and one week focuses entirely on heaven.

“We have a view toward eternity,” York said. “I know where I’m going to be at the end of my life. I’m going to be with my Lord, and I’m going to be with Katie. I have that hope.”

ABOUT GRIEFSHARE

WHAT: A 13-week support group for people mourning the loss of a loved one

WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, starting Sept. 11

WHERE: Trinity-on-the-Hill United Methodist Church, 1330 Monte Sano Ave.

LEARN MORE: Call (706) 738-8822

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
bcave7
2
Points
bcave7 08/27/12 - 10:49 pm
0
0
Actually, Helen Morgan is

Actually, Helen Morgan is from First Presbyterian Church! But anyone from any background is welcome. GriefShare is non-sectarian and biblically-based. I have been through two cycles of the program with two of my daughters following the loss of our son and their brother. I found it very helpful to have people to talk to who were experiencing similar feelings. Grief is a very long journey and the program and group members have helped me in my journey. You find out you are not crazy but experiencing challenges that others face. Grief can be a very lonely, isolating experience. I would encourage anyone in that situation to seek help. You can look for a group close to you by going to the website, griefshare.org, and clicking on "find a group". They also have a lot of free resources on the website, including a daily e-mail that is short, honest, and encouraging.

Kelly Jasper
86
Points
Kelly Jasper 08/28/12 - 10:17 am
0
0
bcave7, you're right, she is

bcave7, you're right, she is a member of First Presbyterian. Thanks for the catch; we'll correct it immediately.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Grad rates show improvement by local school systems

Graduation rates in both Richmond and Columbia counties followed the statewide trend of slow and steady increases in 2014, although progress in individual schools varied greatly.
Search Augusta jobs