GriefShare helps mourners through difficult times
February 19, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
If there is one certainty in this life, it is the fact that we cannot walk this Earth for an infinite amount of time. Friends, families and lovers cannot escape the inevitability of mortality.
If you have not experienced the death of a loved one, and the grief that accompanies it, you will; but the thing is, you do not have to face it alone, said Louise Dippenaar, a GriefShare facilitator with a background in psychiatric nursing.
“We all have to face death one day. All of us have to go through that. It’s a part of life,” she said. “GriefShare simply offers a support to people to work through that grief experience in healthy ways.”
GriefShare is an international program that utilizes a support group setting to assist those who are grieving the death of a loved one. Each session, guided by a facilitator, includes a video seminar and the opportunity to interact with others who have experienced similar losses.
The group is nondenominational, but does feature biblical teachings about grief and the recovery process. In the past, people of all different faiths have attended and benefitted from the program, Dippenaar said.
“Many people, when they are faced with a devastating experience try to find someplace where they can find meaning in what happened,” she said. “Often, people will stop in to find answers with God.”
The defining feature of the GriefShare program is the small group structure that brings community members together through shared experiences.
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“It’s a great comfort for people to know that they are not going crazy, they are not alone and there are people that are willing to come alongside them and walk with them during this difficult time,” Dippenaar said.
The support group takes its confidentiality seriously, so as to ensure an open space for participants to talk freely, something that was particularly appealing to Mark Wood, who went through GriefShare after losing a loved one last year.
“Going to a group like that, you get a chance to talk to other people that have similar experiences,” he said. “It’s a chance for you to go in and express your feelings. That combination of the confidentiality and being with people in a similar circumstance can be really helpful.”
Each person’s grief journey is unique, Dippenaar said, and it is up to her as a facilitator to meet each person where they are in the process.
“One thing that GriefShare facilitators do not do is tell you to get over it,” she said. “You cannot get over it, you cannot go around it, you have to go through it, and we’re willing to guide you through it at your pace.”
The program has a $20 registration fee, which covers 14 weeks worth of materials. Participants are encouraged to bring a friend or relative to the first few sessions.
“Losing a loved one, that’s not the time to be strong, it’s the time to be human,” Dippenaar said. “It doesn’t mean that you will forget your loved one, it means that you’re facing your new normal and we are here to support you.”