Many people muddle through the journey of grief on their own, but I don’t really know how they do it. There is power in being in the same room surrounded by people who have had the same experience and finding your way through it together. Grief is a very individual experience, but it is also one of the most common of human experiences. When asked, I always give credit to two support groups that helped me find my way through the darkest time of my life: Compassionate Friends and GriefShare.
On the last Monday night in August we will begin a new season of GriefShare at Forsythe Church of Christ. For the past decade, I’ve regularly attended, assisted, and/or led GreifShare meetings. Mentoring me all the way were my good friends Royce and Carol Ogle. After experiencing the loss of their spouses, they found each other and determined to help others find their path through grief and loss. They found GriefShare and have been utilizing this program to bring hope to the suffering ever since.
All of that happened before I knew the Ogles. Not long after I arrived in Monroe we suffered the loss of our son, John Robert. During that long path of painful recovery, I became aware of support groups for grief. Royce and Carol wanted to offer GriefShare at Forsythe. Now if you know Carol, you don’t ever really say ‘no’ to her. Or she doesn’t hear it, I’m not sure which. Royce has said, “They don’t call her the little General for nothing!” So we said yes and before long I found myself sitting in a room with others who were experiencing grief watching GriefShare and talking about it.
I do not remember a lot about those meetings except that I cried through every one of them. In my own journey of grief, I couldn’t have dreamed of a time when I would stand up in front of other people who had suffered losses and try to lay out some guideposts for them. Royce and Carol gently led us toward the healing process that would take a long time. Now, ten years later, I see those tears in the eyes of others and I have hope for them when they do not hope for themselves.
Royce and Carol are moving to Texas. They have been a powerful gospel influence in Ouachita Parish for many years. It’s sad for all who know and love them here. I’m so grateful to have them in my life. However, we are happy for them and know they will bring joy wherever they go.
It takes a special heart to step into the muddy mess of grief with a stranger and help them see pathways out.
I contemplate GriefShare at Forsythe without Royce and Carol … and the talented people that came along with them … Amy, Sheila, LeeAnn, and others. It feels like we are starting over in some ways. And they are starting over. We always thought if we trained enough facilitators we could offer GriefShare year ’round. But it takes a special heart to step into the muddy mess of grief with a stranger and help them see pathways out.
So pray for all of us. For Royce and Carol as they move to a new chapter in their lives. For those who inhabit the groups (there are four GriefShare groups in our parish) seeking healing. And for Vera, Fonda, and Stacie… who compassionately have agreed to enter into the hurt of other human beings in order to point them to Jesus who heals and saves.
If you’re local and would like to register for our group, please do so HERE.
Pray for me as well. If I were writing the story of my life, I would not be qualified to lead a group of grieving people. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t know what that pain felt life. We can speculate and wonder about why our lives take the paths they do, but in the end we can only trust the One who created us, loves us, and saves us. He has all the answers we cannot find.
I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own. We are not able to plan our own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.Jeremiah 10:23,24a NLT