ARGOS — Facilitator Jen Shaw leads a grief support group called Grief Share at Parkside Community Church in Argos. The group meets every Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. The church is located at 225 S. Michigan St., Argos.
After the death of her own husband John, Shaw struggled to find affordable, effective support. “My husband and I were married for 24 wonderful years.” John suffered with seizures and migraines for 17 years. Over time, his health continued to fail. He developed pneumonia twice. It was after a very difficult year trying to recover from the first round that he wanted to return home on hospice treatment when he developed it the second time.
Shaw felt fortunate that her health coverage included benefits for counseling, but she was seeking more support than that. “Those who grieve speak the same language. I appreciated my counselor, but she could only guide me so much not having experienced that type of loss herself.”
Shaw explored support group options, but many of them focused on new age treatment. “I wanted something faith based.”
Shaw said, “I don’t know how anyone gets through the loss of a loved one without God. Without Him I wouldn’t have made it.”
After finding and participating in Grief Share, she decided to become a facilitator. In addition to that program, Shaw also developed a shorter workshop for those who couldn’t commit to weekly meetings for 13 weeks.
Grief Share deals specifically at dealing with the loss of a loved one to death. Shaw specified that the loss must be human. Pet loss, divorce or other grief issues are not addressed within the program. There are other programs available that deal with divorce specifically, and other grief support groups that may include the loss of a pet.
The program meets weekly, and is run through churches. The meetings can be held off-site, but are administered through churches.
Facilitators are trained to lead the program and are supported with daily feedback on how to improve the program or address specific challenges faced by their peer facilitators. They must obtain the recommendation of their pastor to be accepted into the facilitator training program.
The program is designed with three key parts which include a video seminar, the support group which provides a small group discussion opportunity, and a workbook. The workbook costs $15 which is the only fee required to participate in the Parkside Grief Share.
Shaw said, “They really encourage you to do your homework.” The workbook provides personal study exercises and journaling opportunities to reinforce the weekly session topics. Those topics are: Is This Normal?, Challenges of Grief, The Journey of Grief - Part One, The Journey of Grief - Part Two, Grief and Your Relationships, Why?, Guilt and Anger, Complicating Factors, Stuck, Lessons of Grief - Part One, Lessons of Grief - Part Two, Heaven, What Do I Live for Now?.
Grievers are welcome to begin attending the program at any point during the 13 week period. Each session is designed to be “self-contained” so that each lesson is beneficial and does not have to be experienced in a particular sequence.
Shaw emphasized the faith component, “The program is Christian based. It focuses on relying on God and His Word.” Participants are not allowed to date one another while they are going through the program. “Please be on time. If you are late for some reason, please just understand that we will go ahead and start.”
Shaw has also founded Hope for Hurting Hearts. She operates it as a non-profit organization not seeking financial gain but hoping to provide a safe, Christian based environment for those who are grieving. “I wanted something Christian based. When I felt I was strong enough that was something I came up with.”
Though Shaw’s program focuses on coping with the loss of a loved one, she welcomes all grievers to participate in the program. “The exercises and meditations can be helpful for people dealing with other losses as well.”
Shaw held her first workshop Saturday, October 12 at the Geneva Center in Rochester. To keep the cost for attending low, Shaw sought support from individuals, businesses and organizations to contribute financially with a donation to cover the expenses of renting the facility and providing lunch or by sponsoring an individual for the $25 attendance fee.
Children, work and civic obligations can make it difficult for people to commit to a 13 week program. Shaw developed Hope for Hurting Hearts to offer support and consolation to those who trying to move forward with the business of life, but still need help.
Participants who attended were gifted with a MudLove bracelet embellished with the word “flourish”. A list of local Christian counselors was provided upon request at the end of the workshop.
Shaw said, “Unfortunately death is a part of life. My hope is to have this program up and running so that those who experience the loss of a loved one don’t have to feel so desperate and so alone in their despair.”
Those who want to find out more about next year’s program or to make a financial contribution are welcome to contact Shaw at 574-780-6777. Checks or money orders can be mailed to Jen Shaw, Attention: Hope for Hurting Hearts, 1220 Wabash Avenue, Rochester, IN, 46975.
In addition to the Parkside Community Church Grief Share Program, Barb Gretter leads a group at the Life Plex every Monday. Gretter can be reached at 574-274-7035 for more information about that program.
Shaw facilitates two Grief Share seminars a year at Parkside Community Church. Though this session is nearing completion, Shaw welcomes grievers to attend Surviving the Holidays Tuesday, November 19 beginning at 6 p.m.
Those interested in finding out more about the program or about how to become a facilitator may obtain more information online at griefshare.org.
Surviving the Holidays will be held Tuesday, November 19 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Parkside Community Church located at 225 S. Michigan St., Argos. Though part of a larger 13 week program, this workshop is designed to be helpful independently to those who are grieving and are looking for additional help to cope with the approaching holiday season.