East Hill offers hope for grieving

Church to host 13 sessions on how to deal with loss

Rebecca Tellez knows that our society doesn't deal well with grief. You're expected to go back to work soon after a loved one dies, and even well-meaning people sometimes tell you to 'get over it.'

Yet grief can be accompanied by feelings of abandonment and anger, she says, which can take months, even years to resolve.

'Grief is just like a fingerprint,' Tellez, 61, says, noting she lost one brother when he was 25 and another when he was 33. 'It's unique to each individual.'

To help people deal with grief, East Hill Church, 701 N. Main Ave., is offering GriefShare, a 13-week course to help you through the grieving process, Tellez says. Each session runs from 6:15 to 8 p.m. in Room A-7, and the registration fee of $15 covers the cost of materials used, she adds. The series begins Thursday, April 3.

GriefShare uses a series of videos to prompt discussion and reflection among participants, she says. For example, Session 1 uses 'Living With Grief,' which addresses such questions as why participants shouldn't be ashamed of their grief and why they shouldn't rush their healing.

Tellez adds that GriefShare, which was developed by Church Initiative, a ministry based in Wake Forest, N.C., is Christ-centered. For some people, this can be a turn-off, she says, but for others, especially those who may have been away from church for a while, it can be a chance to reconnect with God.

On that note, GriefShare acknowledges that not everyone who loses a loved one is going to be a big fan of God.

'It's OK to be mad at God,' she says. 'He's big, and he already knows anyway.'

And one of the things God knows is that the death of a loved one leaves a big hole in your heart. Christ is offered as a source of healing, she says.

'He holds our hand, he holds our head when we cry,' she says, adding that Jesus' mercy can be a source of comfort to the grieving. 'When you grab a hold of that and when you learn to rest in that, it's not so lonely and the hole isn't so big.'

This will be the fourth such series Tellez facilitates, and she's learned that people need to talk about their grief and use rituals to get through it. For example, participants light candles in memory of their loved ones, she says, and engage in such activities as writing letters to them.

She also notes that participants are not obligated to come to every session, and that sensitivity is front and center.

'This allows people to walk that path of grief for however long it takes,' she says.

To learn more

To learn more about East Hill's GriefShare, call 503-661-4444, ext. 356. To learn more about the national program, visit www.griefshare.org.