Grief support group builds relationships in familiar territory

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Feb. 28, 2013
Windsor Locks Congregational Church's GriefShare Support Group attendees Bob Greene and Carol Lapointe, alongside group leader Doris McAusland. Photo by Colin Rajala.
Windsor Locks Congregational Church's GriefShare Support Group attendees Bob Greene and Carol Lapointe, alongside group leader Doris McAusland. Photo by Colin Rajala.

The heartache and mental anguish surrounding the death of a spouse, parent or child can be devastating, often leaving a survivor questioning life and feeling alone in the world. If the loved one was a life partner, the one left behind may find himself or herself also dealing with basic yet unfamiliar chores and errands like pumping gas, balancing a checkbook, cooking meals or paying bills.

Fortunately, there is a local seminar group dedicated to supporting those who grieve and teaching them skills they may need, as they get back on their feet and continue on in the next chapter of their lives. The Windsor Locks Congregational Church’s GriefShare Support Group aims to help ease the family member’s grief, while bringing them closer to God during 13-week sessions throughout the year.

The group sessions allow members to share recent experiences dealing with a loss, while discussing the journey of grief and the effects of grief. The group watches professional videos related to the topic before reflecting on and discussing the topic. They end in a closing prayer for God's support as they deal with the rough times.

Group leader Doris McAusland said that the group also uses journaling outside of the meetings. She said that when people go back to read something they wrote in their journals a month or so ago, they realize they have made progress and are moving forward in their lives.

Bob Greene went through the support group after losing his wife of 51 years two days before Christmas, which left him shattered. Knowing Greene through church and seeing that he was having a rough time, McAusland recommended the program to him. Greene was hesitant at first, but realized that grieving alone was not helping as much as he would like. Greene said that he was religious prior to attending the group, but he discovered that his attendance in the meetings allowed his faith to grow and led him to be a stronger person because of God.

“Men don’t grieve very well; as a general rule they try not to grieve at all,” Greene said. “They try to circumvent the whole process, which is very unhealthy. They eat too much, drink too much, try to get too busy, many of them try and get married right away; and all those things are unhealthy. This program makes you face up to it, go through it, and it offers little helps throughout the way. It was absolutely the greatest thing.”

Carol Lapointe went through grief support with another church after losing her husband unexpectedly after 30 years of marriage. She remarried years later and her second husband passed away. She thought she could grieve on her own, having been through the process before, but that was not the case. She went through it again and found the effects to be profound and rehabilitating once more.

“It helps you see that you’re not the only one that’s going through this,” Lapointe. “The way you’re acting right now is normal, grief is a process. God cares too, you’re not alone. God has a greater plan, and even if you do not understand it, he does. He loves you, He loves your loved one, and they are in a safe place.”

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