Jackie Woodcock is a facilitator for Griefshare, and she is leading support groups for people who have felt the pain of loss over the holidays.
“Love doesn’t end with death.” said Woodcock, a member at Westwood Baptist Church in Cary. “It helps to be with supportive people who have experienced a similar loss.”
This year marks the 20th anniversary for Church Initiative, the nondenominational nonprofit ministry that created Griefshare as a 13-week Bible-based program for people who have experienced the death of a loved one. There are about 50 active Griefshare groups in the triangle area and over 6,000 groups in the U.S.
“Being able to talk about the curriculum and support including the daily Griefshare emails helps ease the pain,” explained Joseph Northcut, Director of Church Ministries for Church Initiative.
In December, Westwood Baptist Griefshare facilitators held a Surviving the Holidays workshop that brought more than two dozen community members together to talk about their loss and how to honor those who have died.
Heather Pendleton found the Westwood support group in 2008 when her 27-year-old sister died of cancer.
“I was at a complete loss of knowing what to do when my mother called and encouraged me to join a Griefshare group,” Pendleton said. “The first five sessions, I just cried and couldn’t express a word.”
She said she felt more connected to her family in Pennsylvania through the Griefshare experiences.
Many who attended the holiday workshop described the feelings of loss as journey. Nancy Guthrie, one of the hosts for the Griefshare video, suggests a good way to process the pain is to write a grief letter.
“Often the fear of crying can prevent you from moving forward. Tears honor the one you lost, sad Guthrie, author of several books including “Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.”
Woodcock’s husband Phil died in 2005, and she went to her first Griefshare support group at Colonial Baptist in Cary. After completing her first sessions, Woodcock was trained as a facilitator and began leading Griefshare at Westwood.
“Everyone grieves differently and your faith can get stronger,” she said. “You learn to prioritize what’s important - it’s about being with people and helping others is just a part of the process for me.
Published January 2, 2013 in The Cary News
Shown pictured, Jackie Woodcock
Picture credit: Liza weidle
Liza is the Faith Filter columnist for the Cary News. Her stories of faith and lives changed by trusting in God are published about four times a year.