GriefShare offers hope, healing
Before Jim Schmidt lost his wife, Patricia, to cancer in 2009, he made a promise to her — he would take steps to help him heal following her loss.
“She said I’m going where I’m going to be happy, I’m going to be just fine,” Schmidt said. “She made me promise that I would do something to heal. If anybody could come back and leave a message to their loved one, it would be they want them to heal. That is an honor to our loved one. It’s not an honor if we spend the rest of our life miserable.
“When I first lost Patricia, for me, life was over,” Schmidt remembers. “Everything good was in the past, there was nothing to look forward to.”
Within that first year after losing his wife, Schmidt said he learned of a support group in town for those grieving the loss of a relationship. That first group was open to those who were divorced, widowed or separated.
“The loss through divorce or separation is not at all like losing someone through death,” he said.
GriefShare, a Christ-centered program that helps people apply biblical principles as they deal with the emotions and life stresses following the death of a loved one, was launched in 1998 and quickly spread across the nation.
The program is designed to provide people, who all grieve differently, with tools that will strengthen them for their own grief journeys, foster healthy relationships and create a Christian support system built of individuals who understand the pain of loss.
This will be his 10th year helping to facilitate the 13-week course, each Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Living Hope Alliance Church, 1779 Frank Ave. S.E. Sessions begin Monday, Sept. 11 and end Monday, Nov. 13. Schmidt will be joined by three other program facilitators, each of whom has been through the program and understands the pain of grief.
“I don’t have to worry about being an expert, the expert is on the video,” he said. “We have a workbook, and we encourage people to journal. There’s also a diary through the week. You can say where you are emotionally, spiritually, physically. Then we have a discussion. The three main things are the video, discussion, and the workbook.”
Schmidt said people can go through the course more than once. “The thing about it is that if you’re still in a fog, you can come back the next time and pick up what you missed the first time,” he said.
“Grief is so much more complicated than the five stages we’ve heard about,” Schmidt said. “You can be in acceptance one day and the next day you’re depressed and angry. Grief is complicated and different for different people.
“We were not meant to go through grief all by ourselves,” he added. “God didn’t make us that way, He made us to help each other. Our resources for support are the three F’s: our faith, our family, and our friends.
“Faith, that’s No. 1; the support of the Lord,” Schmidt said. “We don’t push Christianity, we encourage. A lot of people tell about how the Lord has helped them. People that grieve without hope, how tough that is.”
Schmidt said the group is open to everyone who is suffering from loss, regardless of how long they have been dealing with it.
“There are people who can be stuck in grief,” he added. “It could be 10 years ago, and you haven’t gotten through it. I don’t say over. You don’t get over grief, you get through it.
“If you’re stuck man, we’re here for you to get through it,” Schmidt added.
“A good cry is good for you, guy or girl, it doesn’t matter – even Jesus wept. If he can weep, why do we think that we have to suck it up and don’t be a baby? That’s one big lie. It’s the worst thing for us.”
For Schmidt, his promise to his wife of 36 years to find courage to face life again without her kept him going — and inspired him to hike the famous 108.8-mile Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills with his son, Brian.
That father-son trek brought healing, peace, and culminated with the publication of his book, “One Man’s Grief and a Long Walk.”
“I won’t promote my book through GriefShare,” said Schmidt, who married his wife, Susan, nine years ago. “But I will promote GriefShare through my book.”