COCHRANE— Offering a safe space to begin the process of grief, The Cochrane Alliance Church is set to host a class dedicated to helping people recover from the death of a loved one.
Grief Share is a faith-based group that has been running out of the Cochrane Alliance Church for five years, said People’s Care Ministries consultant Larry Charter.
The class is open to anyone who has experienced the death of a loved one. He added they usually recommend people wait until at least three months after a death before attending the course as they may still be numb from the loss.
“We throw it open to people who have just experienced loss— Whether that be through cancer, we have had people who have experienced loss with suicide, whatever it would be,” Charter said. "The only common denominator with all the people there is they have experienced loss.”
The 13-week curriculum is provided by the American based organization Grief Share and focuses on helping those who have experienced a close death work through the grieving process.
The biggest demographic that accesses the Grief Share support program are seniors who have lost spouses, Charter said, but those that attend can be any age.
Those that join the Grief Share support group come from any background and do not have to have a religious faith, he said. The biggest concern is that the group is united in helping with “the broken hearts” and grieving.
“Some people when they come they’ve never been in a church before,” Charter said. “You’re welcome to grieve in whatever way you grieve.”
Charter serves as the director of the course with support from one or two facilitators. He has seen groups as big as 22 people and as small as six or seven.
The sole focus of the weekly meetings is to help people embrace their grieving process.
“The first night is always a little bit worrisome to some people because there with a group of people they don’t know and they’re really going through one of the most difficult times in their life,” Charter said. “Everyone’s at a different stage in dealing with their own certain kind of grief.”
During the first meeting participants have the opportunity to briefly share their story, Charter said, and it can get very emotional. He noted people are never required to share unless they are comfortable.
Charter is a professional counsellor and those who are uncomfortable sharing their experience in front of others can speak with him one-on-one as a grief counsellor.
Each class during the 13-week session is divided into three parts— The night begins with a group gathering to share how they are feeling and what they have learned, a 40 to 50-minute video dealing with the different subjects of grief and the evening concludes by splitting into small groups to discuss how the video applies to where individuals are in their grieving process.
Each class is unique, he said, and the modular design makes it easier for people to drop in and out of sessions at their discretion.
After the first three to four weeks participants become comfortable in the group, Charter said, describing Grief Share as a little family.
He added some groups in the past have gone on to form their own separate meetings when the sessions at the church come to an end.
“You never know what’s going to come out of each session,” Charter said. "Each session is completely different from the other.”
Participants do not need to attend every class in the session, Charter said, explaining that they are only encouraged to do what they are able.
“That’s the nature of grieving— They start off and on that day they’re feeling OK but they come to a night when grief is like a tsunami,” Charter said. “Grief can hit people at the most unexpected times.”
To participate in Grief Share register online at the Cochrane Alliance website, sessions begin on Tuesday (Sept. 15). A $35 charge is included to cover the cost of the program.