In some fashion or another, it’s an emotion everyone must face eventually. Some handle it better than others. Many struggle when grief rears its ugly head.
A 13-week class that begins Thursday evening at CrossRoads Community Church on Highway 80 East hopes to come alongside those who are grieving to offer encouragement and hope.
GriefShare is a support group that meets weekly and is a worldwide program held in about 12,000 churches across the globe. CrossRoads Community Church offers the video-driven support group program twice a year. The current program will be CrossRoads’ sixth GriefShare session.
Pastor Janet Swanson, wife of CrossRoads Community Church Senior Pastor Cary Swanson, initially introduced the program to her church following the death of her parents, when she said she noticed that oftentimes the church body doesn’t know how to reach grieving individuals.
“You attend the funeral, grieve with them, but then you don’t know what to do next,” Janet Swanson said. “For others around you, life goes on, but you’re still grieving.
“After I lost my parents, a lot of things seemed to happen to me emotionally. Grief has a way of bringing up pain that’s been suppressed, brings up issues you haven’t dealt with.”
Swanson said GriefShare benefits those who have lost a spouse, child, family member, other relative, child through miscarriage, friend or close acquaintance.
“GriefShare is a support group where we talk about every stage of grief from a Christian perspective,” Swanson explained.
The nondenominational program features biblical concepts for healing from grief.
“People think Christians aren’t supposed to grieve like the world because of the verse [in Thessalonians], but they forget to add the part that Christians grieve with hope — hope is the key word,” she said.
CrossRoads member Danielle Mixon facilitates the GriefShare classes and said they blessed her tremendously when she lost her mom.
“I squalled through the whole first session, and then I participated in another session,” she said. “And after that, Pastor Janet encouraged me to be the facilitator.
“It’s amazing to see hearts that are being healed through this class. People walk into the class broken, and they meet others in the class who know exactly how they feel.”
In fact, it was after leading the first two sessions in the spring and fall of 2015 that Swanson felt led to write the songs that are on her recently recorded CD, “Near to the Broken.”
“I could feel God’s presence so strongly in each class,” Swanson said. “Many of the songs and prayers on the CD were birthed from the class.”
Class participant Mary Sue Smith concurs with Swanson, Mixon and others about the blessings of taking part in the class. Within a span of about three years, Smith lost her mother, husband and mother-in-law.
She said her mother died suddenly at the age of 97 after a stroke but had otherwise been in great health. Prior to that, however, Smith and her husband, Bob, received devastating news in February 2007 that Bob had lung disease.
“At first, we thought it was good news that it was a ‘disease’ and not cancer, but then found out there are options and treatments for lung cancer but no treatment for his lung disease,” she said.
It was then that she realized grief could precede death.
“I started grieving in 2007 because of his prognosis,” she said.
Smith became the caregiver for her husband, who was on oxygen, as well as for her mother and mother-in-law.
She said she’s learned so much from the GriefShare classes that she took part in.
“I started grieving in 2007 — I’m still grieving,” Smith admitted, adding that she wasn’t ready for the class earlier. “You share grief across the board and have many of the same experiences and feelings, even if you deal with it in different ways.”
Registration is ongoing for the GriefShare session that beings Thursday evening and will meet for 13 weeks at CrossRoads Community Church from 6–7:30 p.m. Mixon points out that participants are encouraged to join now; however, because each video-driven session is self-contained, anyone can join and attend any session during the cycle.
A $15 registration fee covers the workbook that is used during the week between the meetings, and child care is available for participants. Call (912) 536-8156 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register.