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Area church offers griefshare program

With the passing of a loved one, each day brings challenges of dealing with the grief that at times can be overwhelming. The holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, can be especially difficult for those who mourn.

With this in mind, a local church is hosting a program entitled, “Surviving the Holidays,” as part of the ongoing GriefShare series it offers at various times throughout the year.

“GriefShare is a program for people who have lost a loved one and are grieving and need support,” said Nancy Perry, facilitator of the program, which is held at Northway Community Church, 1680 Four Mile Drive.

The group normally meets once a week and is confidential.

“The bonding that happens in GriefShare is wonderful. It really has amazed me,” Perry said.

Perry shared that she discovered GriefShare after her own mother passed away and she attended sessions at another church before she was encouraged to lead one at Northway.

Perry admitted that she’s not an adult leader and actually prefers working with children, but that the experience has been great, adding, “It’s my passion.”

For her, the best part of the program is the bonding.

“And the closeness to God, because it’s a very Christian program,” she said. “You sit and listen to other people’s stories and you realize you’re not the only one going through grief and that helps so much. The world says the funeral’s over, you’re done, you should be over it. That’s not the way grief works. Grief can take years.”

“Just watching people come out of their grief and share and laugh. At the end of our group, we’ll be sharing and we’ll be laughing and it’s wonderful to watch that, almost metamorphosis,” she added.

The program emphasizes relying on God to cope with grief. Perry shared that there are scriptural references throughout the DVD-based series and prayer and fellowship with other Christians is stressed.

Each session is 13 weeks and a break is taken in between the sessions.

The “Surviving the Holidays” sessions cover such topics as “What to do with your holiday emotions,” “Tips for surviving social events” and “Surviving Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.”

There will be two sessions offered on Nov. 18, one at 2 p.m. and one 7 p.m. Pre-registration is required because the size of the group is limited to about 12. There is no charge for the sessions.

Perry noted that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, are very hard, along with anniversaries of the death or birthdays of the loved one.

“This just offers options. It makes people think ahead. Do I accept an invitation to go to a relative’s on Christmas? It leads you through thinking about what you’re going to do if you’re not comfortable. How are you going to refuse an invitation. Or are you going to say, ‘I’ll try to come’? It gets you thinking ahead of time about reactions and possible, what we call “blindsides,” where something happens and you just totally lose it. Especially for those three holidays that are so hard for people who have lost someone. They seem to be the major ones,” she said.

The sessions are structured so that following the DVD there are questions, but Perry emphasized that it’s understood that no one is obligated to speak unless they feel comfortable doing so.

To register for “Surviving the Holidays,” contact Northway Community Church at 570-322-0143 or Nancy Perry at 570-692-2396.

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