A 13-week session of GriefShare begins Monday at CrossRoads Community Church that offers a video-driven support group for those who have lost a loved one. The class meets on Monday evenings from 6–7:30 p.m. A $15 fee covers a workbook used in the class.
“We come alongside those who are grieving to offer hope and encouragement,” said Danielle Mixon, GriefShare facilitator who first took part in a GriefShare series of classes when her mother passed away.
GriefShare is a support group that meets weekly and is a worldwide program held in more than 12,000 churches across the globe. This is the eighth cycle of classes that CrossRoads has sponsored.
Pastor Janet Swanson, wife of CrossRoads Community Church Senior Pastor Cary Swanson, introduced the support group to CrossRoads after the death of her parents.
Swanson referenced 1 Thessalonians 4:13 and said, “Grief can be very difficult. Christians grieve with hope — hope is the key word.” Swanson will help facilitate some of the classes this session.
Many in the community have taken part in the support group. Joanne Newland, who found out about a previous session from a Statesboro Herald newspaper article, said she was thrilled to find out about the program.
“It had been years — my husband died in 2005, but I was still grieving. When I read about the class, I felt like I was supposed to go, and God confirmed that to me when I went the first night,” she said.
Newland made the connection that she’d taught school with facilitator Danielle Mixon’s mother-in-law.
“Danielle has a gift for facilitating this group,” Newland said. “She was such a healer to me.
“When I first went, I was skeptical. I didn’t know what to expect. I’d lost my parents, which was sudden, and then I lost my husband after a long cancer battle. Both were difficult.”
Newland pointed out that grief has no timeline and the class videos reiterated that concept.
“Whether you lose someone in the blink of an eye or you’re taken down a long road of watching someone suffer, grief pulls the rug out from under you, and this class helps you find your footing again.
“We don’t sit there and moan over the past. We talk and support one another; we heal, and we’ve become friends in the present.”
Previous GriefShare attendee Michele LeBlanc had a similar situation as Newland in that her husband passed away years before she participated in the class. LeBlanc lost her husband in 2003, while living in Houston, and took part in a GriefShare class there.
Though she’d lived in Statesboro since 2012, LeBlanc didn’t find out about the class until 2017 and enrolled last year.
“Grief snowballs,” LeBlanc said. “You never lose it. It’s always there. And sometimes you’re ambushed by a memory or a person or a song or a thing.”
LeBlanc recalls a time when she felt ambushed, attacked by surprise grief.
“My husband loved Tabasco on his food. I was in the grocery store, looking for soy sauce, and my eyes landed on Tabasco sauce.”
She said she thought, “If I could only buy that Tabasco sauce again.”
She also remembered that, when her mother was alive, she often tired of her mother’s banana bread because she baked it often.
“My mother passed away in 1999, and I am so sad that I don’t have her banana bread recipe.
“This class taught me to cope with my new way of life and move through the new challenges of life, big or little. I learned that the only thing that will ever be constant in my life is God.”
LeBlanc said her husband died suddenly of a brain aneurism at the age of 69.
“I felt gutted, like someone ripped my heart out. I realized I had to get a new life. I’d never be the same. I had to move out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t like it. Like I had nothing to reach or hang onto.
“This class helped me with my new life and taught me that you never get over it — but you get through it.”
LeBlanc said that her class was comprised of a spectrum of losses: spouse, parent, child, grandparent, friend and even a pet.
To take part in the GriefShare class, call (912) 536-8156, or visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register.