Grief support group planned

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 21, 2014

The pastors of two local churches have teamed up to establish a grief support group.

The Rev. Tim Trent of First United Methodist Church and the Rev. Cindy Howard of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church are working together to organize a group beginning in March.

“I have a good friend that lost a son, and he called me, asking if I knew of a grief group, and I did not,” Trent said. “I asked around and wasn’t able to find one. We talked about it and decided surely, there’s a need.”

For the past two years, St. Mary’s has sponsored a “When Christmas Feels Blue” service during the holiday season.

“The response we’ve had shows us that there are grieving people all around us who may find help in such a group,” Howard said.

Most often, grief is associated with the death of a loved one. But Howard pointed out that people grieve over many other things – loss of a job, divorce, problems with children, etc.”

Trent has previously done work with a grief group, and the two pastors plan to use his experience in forming the new group. But Howard said those who participate in the first meeting with help

develop a covenant for how the group will work.

Trent said that his experience in Dothan taught him what a grief group can do for people.

“The biggest thing is helping people – like my friend who’s lost his son – understand that the emotions that he was feeling are OK. He’s going to have those, needs to own them and admit that’s how he feels. It’s normal. It’s OK.

“We’re taught, ‘don’t be angry with God.’ But it’s OK. He’s a big boy, or a big girl, and she can take it. We’re not taught that.”

Trent said his experience is that some people stay with a grief group for a long while to help others through the painful process. Others move on.

“Confidentiality is extremely important,” Howard said. “What is said in the group stays in the group. Grief is complicated

and each person grieves differently; we want to validate and honor

those feelings.”

A person need not be a church member to participate in the group, which Howard and Trent said they hope will attract people in need of support from across the community.

The first meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Tues., March 4, in the library of St. Mary’s. The library is located in the main church building.