Members of the Griefshare class illuminated the Missouri River to honor the loss of their love ones after participating in the class with others who have had someone close to them die.

People attending called it a celebration and a graduation of sorts as they share stories, songs and food with the group at Krug Park before going to the river and sending the candle luminaries down the river.

Facilitators of the program said they were happy to be able to meet, even if they had to do so outside and with social distancing. They said the human interaction is essential for those mourning the loss of their loved one.

“It’s wonderful when they come the first time. They’re grieving so hard, and they’re crying and they’re in pain. And as you see them begin to come to grips with everything, by the end of 13 weeks, many of them are smiling. So it’s a wonderful road to travel with them,” Griefshare Facilitator Mary Noel-Owens said.

Each person attending was able to share their story and also dedicate a luminaria to a loved one in honor of their memory.

“You can technically call it a graduation because they work so hard,” Griefshare Facilitator Deb Lyons said. “Their grief work is very intense and very hard, and people don’t grieve at the same rate.”

Griefshare meets weekly and holds a ceremony such as this two times a year.

Lyons said when they weren’t able to meet outside due to COVID-19, the group tried to provide other outlets such as Zoom meetings.

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Clayton Anderson can be reached at Follow him on twitter: @NPNowAnderson.

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