The coronavirus pandemic shut down many parts of American life. It did not, however, shut down the process of grieving.
In fact, it exacerbated the hurt and loneliness one feels upon the death of a loved one.
“When you add COVID to the loss of a spouse or anyone, it makes for a perfect storm,” Debbie Lyons said. “The isolation makes everything twice as bad, so we have to reach out during this COVID time.”
Lyons helps with this through a program called GriefShare, which is aimed at supporting people working their way through loss.
An introductory session, called “Loss of a Spouse,” will begin its fall seeason at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30, at Brookdale Presbyterian Church, 203 S. 31st St.
The following Thursday, Sept. 3, the full 13-week course of the program will begin at the same location, with morning and evening options, at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m.
“We have done Zoom meetings and everything, but we are now meeting back in the church using social distancing,” said Lyons, a GriefShare facilitator. “We don’t want those people who have lost their spouses, their right-hand people, to be alone in suffering.”
She and fellow facilitator Mary Noel-Owens believe in the program because both have been helped by it. Noel-Owens has suffered after the death of two husbands and she explained the support she got in the aftermath of those losses.
“It helped me to get through the immediate struggles of all of those things you have to do after you’ve lost that loved one,” Noel-Owens said.
“It really did help because other friends really loved me and wanted to help me, but they didn’t understand how to do that. And I wasn’t very good at reaching out and asking for help.”
GriefShare is an international program, faith-based but nondenominational, that has groups meeting from Australia to Zimbabwe. It uses videos and group discussions and guides personal study and reflection as part of the healing process.
Lyons sought the help of the group after her husband died in 2018. Her conviction in its value led her to be part of the program as it helped others.
“GriefShare saved my life in the fact that I now have a life. There is joy,” she said. “You will grieve the rest of your life, but there is joy to be found.”
For more information about the program, call 816-279-0983.