Dealing with loss

FBC Boaz pastor Richard Pettijohn studies his workbook for the church's GriefShare group. His wife, Vicki, leads the group, which aims to help people grieving with the death of a loved one.



One Boaz ministerial couple used their pain to help others in the community through a program called GriefShare.

Vicki Pettijohn, along with her husband and First Baptist Church of Boaz pastor Richard, began a GriefShare group in the church last year.

The couple's daughter passed away more than three years ago, but Pettijohn knew some good could come from the tragedy.

"I didn't want all the pain to be for nothing," she said. "We felt like God was leading us to start something to minister to people going through grief."

After researching several different ideas, she said GriefShare "just kept popping up."

She met with a couple from an established GriefShare group at First Baptist Church of Albert ville and knew then it was the right program for her church.

"That's when we decided to go with GriefShare," she said. "They've been around a while, and everything they do is quality and backed by research.

"Everything about it was very impressive. The majority of the people involved have had a loss in their own lives."

GriefShare is a national program written and created by experts in the field of counseling and grief management. Local support groups meet for 13-week cycles. The cycles are self-contained and not in a particular sequence, so people can participate in a cycle without any previous attendance.

Groups gather to watch a video seminar featuring expert interviews, real-life case studies, dramatic reenactments and on-location video, according to the program's website,

They then spend time discussing the video and the current events in their own lives. Participants also receive a workbook with notes for further personal study and journaling throughout the week.

In addition to the weekly meetings, a wealth of resources is available on the program's website, including chat pages where people can find support or ask questions.

GriefShare also offers a phone number residents can call for counseling and assistance.

However, even with all the extra resources to help the hurting, Pettijohn believes physical support groups are integral to the healing process.

"It's important for people grieving to see there are other people that are grieving and get support from forming those relationships," she said. "It helps people realize that everybody grieves differently and the way you're grieving is normal, even if it's different than what other people are going through.

"It lets them know they're not crazy. It's just a huge change in their reality. Life will never be the same, but you can achieve a new normal. Life is a gift, and there is joy even if you've lost someone you love."

Participants range from people suffering recent loss to those who have grieved for several years. All people grieve differently, but the program can help everyone in every stage of grief.

"Everybody needs it at different times," Pettijohn said. "Every loss is so different. We see people fresh in their grief be able to focus and get direction, but we even have people who have been experiencing grief for as long as five years and never dealt with it, and they were stuck.

"The best part is seeing how God can really use it to touch lives and help people."

The FBCB GriefShare group is open to the community as well as church members and will begin a third cycle on Jan. 22 at 4:30 p.m. at the church. For more information, call 256-593-8580.

Other churches offering the GriefShare program are First Baptist Church of Albertville and Mount Vernon Baptist Church of Albertville.

(1) comment

Oscar Meyer

God Bless for starting this program.I to lost a child.That is something,you never get over.Just learn to cope as best as you can.Losing a child is the worst, life can offer to a parent,so hard to go on living without a loved one.I do understand the pain,grief,suffering.May your program reach out to many that is hurting from grief.

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