The loss of a loved one affects everyone differently, and everyone has their own unique grief journey. One thing that can help is to have others alongside you during this journey. Here at St. Francis of Assisi, we are blessed to have a program called GriefShare that supports those who have suffered the loss of a loved one — whether it was just weeks ago or many years ago.
Diane Johnson is the group leader for this ministry. A new GriefShare session begins on Saturday, Feb. 17, and lasts 13 weeks. The group meets on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Fr. McMahon fireplace area. People can begin anytime during the 13-week session.
“GriefShare is a faith-based program,” Diane says. “It teaches that trusting God is essential to healing.”
Each session includes prayer, Scripture, workbook exercises, a 30-minute video, and group discussions. Each year, two one-day sessions are offered. There are special sessions — “Surviving the Holidays” is presented each October, and “Loss of a Spouse” will start this summer.
With a background in human resources and training, Diane thought she would have the skills to be a facilitator. Then, she took over as group leader. Her husband, Keith, passed away suddenly in September 2021.
“I was completely overwhelmed by the sudden loss,” Diane says. “My daughter-in-law actually signed me up for GriefShare, and it was just what I needed. I was very impressed with the program.”
People who have gone through this program comment on the difference it has made in their grieving process.
“Many talk about how they learned helpful ways to cope with grief and were finally able to move forward and embrace their new circumstances,” Diane says.
Being involved in GriefShare has greatly impacted Diane’s life. It’s one way she took Keith’s death and made it something positive.
“I’ve found a deeper faith and understanding in God’s plan for me,” she says. “I’m grateful and humbled that God has entrusted me with this important responsibility.”
GriefShare is truly a place for people to express their emotions in a nonjudgmental environment. It’s a safe and confidential space for people who are grieving. Some people only need to listen to find support. GriefShare is meant for those at all stages.
“Someone recently shared that they now realize that grief is a long, difficult journey you must go through,” Diane says.
Diane wants to dispel the misconception that coming to GriefShare will make you sad because you will be around other grieving people.
“This couldn’t be farther from the reality,” she says. “Yes, there are tears and sadness, but there is also much laughter and joy. New friendships are formed, and confidence is gained along with peace of mind and hope for the future.”
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one and would like to attend the spring session, sign up at griefshare.org.
GriefShare is always in need of additional facilitators. If you have a strong faith and a passion for serving those experiencing loss, contact Diane Johnson at 303-919-7609.