By Benna Sayyed
CMI STAFF WRITER
Kathy Hammill has sought outside help twice to handle the grief associated with the death of a family member.
The first time was in 1978 when her infant son died from severe heart problems. In 2003, her mother died.
Both times she turned to GriefShare, an international nondenominational Christian-based grief support group that addresses grief recovery from a biblical standpoint. The group targets people coping with losing a close friend, family member or associate.
Hammill said GriefShare was critical in recovering from her family’s deaths.
“My mom lived with us for 18 1/2 years,” Hammill said. “She was like a second mom to my kids. She did the salads. I did the main course. My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for six years (in the 1970s)” Hammill said. “We got to hold Scotty and have him for only 2 1/2 days.”
That’s why she agreed to be a group leader when approached by Central Baptist associate pastor B.J. Brooks. GriefShare was active at Central Baptist Church several years ago and was recently reintroduced by Brooks and other church pastors. New sessions are led by Hammill.
“Grief doesn’t have to be feared,” Brooks said. “If we handle it the right way it is normally the mechanism to bring about a lot of growth and help us really appreciate life and help others who grieve as well.”
Brooks stressed the importance of helping individuals realize there is positive in grief and referred to grief as a growth process. He said the average recovery time for deep grieving for an immediate loved one is 18 months. He said recovery should not be done alone.
Hammill said new group members are not pushed to share their experience and can progress in their recovery at their own pace.
A different grief topic will be addressed each month. Topics include: Living with grief, the effects of grief, your family and grief and God’s prescription for grief. The program lasts 13 weeks.
Each session will include a 25-40 minute video seminar. GriefShare videos feature interviews with more than 45 authors, counselors, speakers, pastors and celebrities who are experts in grief recovery, according to GriefShare promotional material.
The videos also feature a wide variety of individuals sharing their experience with grief and speaking about who they lost, according to Hammill.
Group members will discuss topics covered in the videos. Group members will also complete exercises and keep a journal in a workbook. Hammill said journaling helps the grief-recovery process. She said the workbook contains much scripture-based reading material and positive, practical advice on working through grief.
Most group facilitators have completed the course and often have a positive effect on new members, according to Hammill.
“You get permission to grieve,” said Hammill, who went through the course the second time while caring for her severely ill in-laws.
“Unless you’ve been through it people think ‘it’s been two or three months, it’s just their sister. It wasn’t their husband, their mother or their child.’ But can you imagine how you would feel if your brother died. There’s a real difference having a lot of people around who are going through a similar experience and say, ‘this is what I did when the holidays came.’”
Hammill said group members can help each other by observing each other’s recovery, bearing each other’s burden and realizing the strength in the ministry of support.
She pointed out that the group provides continual support in a person’s recovery, support that extends far beyond a person’s death and funeral.
- What: GriefShare recovery support group
- When: 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays, Feb. 20-May 15. New members can join the group during any session.
- Where: Central Baptist Church
- Who can attend: High school aged children to adults
- Cost: $15 for a workbook
- Information: 762-4727 or e-mail Kathy Hammill at firstname.lastname@example.org